Champing. No, I didn’t spell that wrong.
Yes, I did mean champing and not glamping.
Ok so what exactly is it- well it’s like glamping (stay with me here) but in a church.
It’s the brainchild of the Churches Conservation Trust and is quite a unique idea. The concept came about to attempt to save these unused churches and to use them to help upkeep the rest. The money you spend to camp out in the church goes straight back to the churches conservation trust to do exactly what it says in their name – conserve churches.
It’s different. So why would you want to be camping in a church? Glad you asked – I have no idea. For some reason, I thought this was a brilliant idea and booked it.
The whole experience was weird to begin with but was in retrospect a really cool experience. Its unique, novel and has a certain exclusivity about it. Can any of your friends say they stayed in a church? I thought not.
My personal experience
Let me paint the picture before we begin, It’s Easter Sunday and the night we decided to stay in the church. We had travelled from the Isle of Wight by ferry and train to get to the sleepy town of Langport to stay in the All Saints church. This is where living in a city made me very naive.
The church itself was still a way away from the train station which meant we would need to take a taxi or public transport. What I didn’t realise is that because it was Easter Sunday, it meant there was no public transport or taxis. We were faced with a choice to keep trying and failing to book a taxi, walk or catch the train back to London and forget the whole thing.
By some miracle, after great debate and a mini panic attack, we managed to find a taxi and promptly got dropped off outside the church. This was where the fun began. The whole experience was unreal from this point on. We found our giant ancient key and unlocked the enormous wooden door which lead onto a beautiful stone corridor with stained glass all around which gave the sunshine the opportunity to peek through and dance alon the cold stone floor.
The Church was grand and a child’s ideal playground. It was a place that could fuel the imagination and that’s exactly what it did to me and why I had no sleep that night. While my boyfriend was enjoying his new toy (telescope) in the garden of the church, I was freaking out. See I forgot churches have graveyards. Turns out the whole sleeping in an empty church completely freaked me out because all I could think about were the angry ghosts that were going to come and attack me.
After a cold, sleepless night we promptly packed up and headed home to the ghost free apartment. So would I recommend it? Yes, I would and here is why.
My experience was far from perfect, honestly, I had a sh*t night. That was no fault to the experience but all fault of my over-excited mind. The experience itself is novel and exclusive. If you have the money you can make it more comfortable but the cost does start to add up. Coming in at around £49.00 per person it’s not cheap especially if you can get a hotel bed for that price. But again comfort is not what you are paying for.
I actually love the idea, it allows for families or anyone really to experience something different. Imagine being a kid and camping in a church, I can just see the excitement. That excitement came through in the guest book which had raving reviews.
So would I go again?
I thought about this a bit. Due to poor planning on my side and potentially going at the wrong time of year with it being a bit nippy. I feel that I didn’t allow myself a great start to the mini getaway. If we had gone in summer we could have explored the surrounding area. The view from the church was endless lush green fields and a few cows scattered about so it would have been fun to explore. Secondly, we wouldn’t have had such a stressful time actually getting there.
But to answer the original question no I wouldn’t go again. I have two reasons for this. Firstly I really was freaked out about the ghosts thing and secondly, I feel that once was enough to appreciate the novelty of the idea. Potentially in the future when I have a little family I might change my mind.
A few tips about champing
If strangers do happen to pop across while you are on your stay, explain to them the concept of champing. It can get a bit awkward if they think you are squatting in the church.
It can get cold at night, think about all that stained glass and cold stone. Make sure to pack extra layers.
The ghosts will not come after you. I promise. I have the first-hand experience, I stayed awake all night to make sure so you can take my word for it.
Embrace the whole thing, it’s all good fun and for a good cause and remember that the people who look after these programmes are all volunteers.
The toilet will most likely be outside, so make sure to pee before bed. Going out at night in the dark with those gravestones FREAKED THE HELL OUT OF ME. Let’s just say it was a good thing I was going to the toilet in the first place. Our toilet was very clean, spacious and had a fancy flush system (living the fancy life).
The beds are camper beds and we opted for the sleeping bags, which were an additional cost. It wasn’t the worst comfort level I have been in (hello air mattress at Szieget) and was adequate for one night.
They provided us with a kettle and a few bits and bobs to make tea and wash up after, making sure the cleaning products were eco-friendly.
We didn’t get to explore Langport much but I do remember there was a really good Indian restaurant down the road from the church. If we had a car
All in all, it’s a story and one that I am grateful I have in my bank to tell. Life is all about the memorable experiences right? Do let me know if you decide to go on a Champing adventure I would love to hear your story.
The 20-second breakdown
Location: All across the UK
Cost: Average cost is £49/£59 per adult
£25/£30 per child
£12.50 for breakfast
£25pp for sleeping bag and camper bed
Season: Best to go summer, but available from spring to autumn – April to end of September.
Happy reading but mostly happy exploring.