‘Champing’ Service Rents out Ancient UK Churches to Help Pay for Upkeep
In the UK, historic churches are becoming unique destinations for an overnight stay in nature—at the same time that money is being raised to save them.
It’s all thanks to “Champing,” the latest in the history of the Brit’s tampering with the world “camping” (“glamping” originated as a word here in 2005.)
Champing involves booking a church as a campsite for the night, and Champing the organization ensures that unmet necessities are provided, and that all proceeds keep the churches, some of which date back to the 12th century, in good order.
Champing started when some Scots camped in a church cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, and guessed after a great night that perhaps other folk would enjoy a similar nighttime experience.
On the banks of the River Nene, the Scots hired the local canoe rental company to provide accommodations to those traveling up the river in Northhampshire by hosting them at All Saints, at Aldwincle, a 12-sleeping church built in around the late 1400s.
Now Aldwincle is one of 20 churches managed by Champing, who provide camp beds, camp stoves, fairy lights, lanterns, and tea- and coffee-making equipment.
For the churches without flushing toilets, Champing provide a mobile one powered by solar energy.
They’ll even try to include a breakfast, if delivery can be facilitated or if a restaurant is willing to partner with them.
Meet the churches
St. Leonard’s, in Old Langho, Lancashire, is a cozy church set in the heart of the Ribble Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty and also known as the food capital of the North. There is a family friendly pub next door and a Michelin-starred restaurant nearby.
St. Leonard’s was built immediately following the Protestant Reformation, and the details are very different, including exquisitely-carved wooden pew benches engraved with the initials of the patrons of the early construction.
An 540 square-mile forest, a medieval castle museum, and a manor house containing England’s first-ever wafflery, are all nearby.
Perched proudly on a hilltop, All Saints Church at Langport has a thriving local community to explore, with cideries, cozy cafes, and more. Built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 15th, Langport has electricity, and the finest collection of stained glass in Somerset.
St. Cuthbert’s Church in Holme Lacy, Herefordshire, sits along a pretty bend in the River Wye, and is crafted of beautiful stone work containing exquisite monuments to the church’s patrons from the Middle Ages, the Scudamore Family, who were buried here.
Nearby Hereford Cathedral is the stunning centerpiece of an old Medieval townscape. Its archives include world famous literary relics including the Chained Library, and some of the most famous documents in history, the Mappa Mundi and the Magna Carta.
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