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“Champing” – Camping in church

“Champing” – Camping in church

Camping in old churches, no longer used for worship – seriously, it’s a thing!  The Church of England has many parish churches that are no longer used for worship but which they try to find new uses for, including camping.

According to the Guardian;

The Churches Conservation Trust looks after 347 churches that are no longer used for regular worship: it repairs and maintains the buildings, and finds new uses for them: circus schools, GP surgeries, artists’ workshops. Church camping was the bright idea of Peter Aiers, one of the trust’s regional directors. He says that churches embody hundreds of years of British history, and are beautiful buildings to boot, so what better way to appreciate them than spending a night in one? And have it all to yourselves.

Rachel Dixon, travel writer for the Guardian spent a night at St Mary the Virgin in Fordwich, Kent;;

St Mary the Virgin in Fordwich, Kent, where I stayed, is certainly historic. (Champing is also offered at medieval All Saints Church in Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, and in the Georgian interior of St Cyriac & St Julitta at Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire. The trust is hoping to add more.) St Mary’s dates from Norman times; there are 14th-century stained-glass windows, 17th-century wall paintings and 18th-century wooden box pews. The church’s most famous object, the Fordwich stone, dates from about 1100 and once formed part of a saint’s shrine; perhaps St Augustine of Canterbury’s.

At the end of the busy day it was time to sleep;

Then it was time for bed. I had expected it to be spooky – just the two of us, walking through a graveyard in the dead of night to a dark, draughty old church. Nothing could have been further from the truth; it was simply quiet and peaceful. We lit lots of candles to illuminate our box pew “bedroom” and piled duvets and pillows on top of our spartan beds.

Champing isn’t billed as a luxury or romantic experience – the churches are still consecrated spaces, though guests are free to get up to whatever their consciences allow – but it was undeniably a special place to spend the night.



posted by Jon White

Image: St John’s Church, Duxford in Cambridgeshire. Photograph: Neil Randall


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David Streever

This is pretty cool; a number of churches have let cross-country cyclists use their churches as camping spots in the past. It’d be neat to see some sort of directory of churches that let long-distance travelers camp there overnight.

Kathy Collins

My first question is do they have toilets? And if they do then they are better served than many still “active” churches in use weekly for worship.

JC Fisher

I believe the story said outdoor privies.

I’m wildly ambivalent about this. Would I do it? Absolutely! But it’s just So Sad these churches are no longer in regular use for worship. 🙁

Jay Croft

Yes, it’s sad that these beautiful churches are no longer used as churches. But we have to remember that many were built when people walked, or at best rode horses, everywhere so they had to be rather close to their parishioners.

Others were built as part of landed estates, and there were separate churches for the nobility and the townspeople.

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