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What is champing?

Penny, Pete and their labradoodle Betty from Warwickshire in the UK didn’t head to a campsite or a hard-to-get holiday home for their recent holiday. Instead, they checked into a church.


Camping in churches, or champing, was particularly popular with American tourists to the UK, but now many Brits are finding the charm in overnighting in redundant churches. 


“It was the appeal of doing something a little bit different… I hate being disturbed by other people’s noise. You don’t get that when you’re sleeping among the dead,” she told the Guardian, laughing.


Champing is the official name name of the Churches Conservation Trust initiative and was established six years ago with the hope to help fund the upkeep of empty buildings. 


It is now on track to record its highest number of domestic visitors to date this season.


It costs £49 (a little over AU$90) and £59 (about AU$111)  per adult per night to sleep in camp beds in some lovely old churches across England. 


And, given the policy that only one group is allowed in a church at the time, for some that means you have a whole lot of room to yourself. 


“They’re great value for money – even a little country church, when there’s two of you in it, it’s a massive space,” Penny said. 


“We’re both staunch atheists but I love ancient buildings; I’ve got a bit of a passion for them.” 


According to Champing business development officer Fiona Silk, people are getting a unique experience.


“A lot of people just want to come to somewhere that’s unique, as it will look great on their Instagram.


“They might have done the teepee experience or the shepherd’s hut, and now they’re trying the church… So it’s not necessarily spiritual at all, and obviously people do not have to be religious.”.


Included in your stay are camp chairs, tea and coffee, camp beds, water, a kettle, battery-powered candles, lanterns and fairylights and access to a toilet – but no shower. And because it’s the UK, you’re allowed to drink and even host parties in some of the churches.

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Published: 30 August 2021

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