Forget Glamping: “Champing” Is the New Travel Trend in England

Jan 16, 2017

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Glamping is so 2016. Today’s in-the-know travelers know that “champing” — or sleeping in an old church — is the next big travel trend. Or at least it is in Southeast England, where The Churches Conservation Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to save the country’s historic churches, has set up a network of medieval places of worship that visitors can call home for the night.

“Our Champing churches are living time capsules, with stories that can be traced back as far as the Saxon period, and centuries of history to explore,” the “Champing” page of the organization’s website says. “They present the perfect setting to explore England’s culture, heritage and craftsmanship throughout the ages.”

According to Atlas Obscura, the program kicked off in 2014 at the medieval All Saints’ Church in Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, located less than three hours from London. With its unique design details, including limestone arches and a square tower, the venue was a hit with architecture lovers. And the church’s close proximity to a charming village, a river for canoeing and woodlands for exploring made it a unique country getaway for both Londoners and visitors looking to get a taste of life outside the city.

Since then, the Trust’s network of participating churches has expanded, with each one offering a unique opportunity to explore a bit of England’s past on your own timetable. Plus, it’s private: you’ll be given your very own key to the church and free run of the place, so you can play that ancient organ as loudly as you want. It’s also a bargain at £55 (less than $70) per person per night, which goes toward helping maintain these landmarks — and includes a delivered breakfast.

But don’t expect five-star amenities; the point of champing — which literally combines the word “church” and “camping” — is to go back in time a bit, so it’s a pretty rustic experience. You’ll bring your own bedding (at least pillows and blankets) and most of the churches don’t have electricity, instead using lanterns and battery-operated candles, which will be provided. There’s usually no running water either, but you’ll find a supply of water, plus eco-toilets and water basins for washing up.

Because none of the churches are heated, champing is a warm-weather activity, running from May through September only. For more information or to make a reservation, visit Champing.co.uk.

H/T: Atlas Obscura

Featured image courtesy of The Churches Conservation Trust.

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