Champing: a guide to camping in ancient churches

by Feb 24, 2022 | First published in 2022Adventure

Light was already starting to come through the windows at half four in the morning. I reached across my camp-bed to feel the temperature of the baby sleeping heavily next to me. She was feeling chilly – the damp cold of the church cutting through her layers. I scooped her up and snuggled her into my warm sleeping bag and looked up taking in the huge medieval stain-glass windows surrounding me.

This had to be one of the coolest places I’ve ever slept!!

Camping overnight in ancient churches

Champing is the term coined for church camping, where you can spend a night or more sleeping inside an ancient church in the UK. There are a number of churches available which are all listed on the Champing website. And the best part is your fee – £49 per person per night – pays goes towards supporting the at-risk church you are staying in.

We’d opted for All Saints in Langport, Somerset. It was less than an hour’s drive from us and, although I’d planned to do some walks we had been dished out a full-blown storm….so we opted for a cosy night in instead!

The place can comfortably sleep large groups so as well as my husband and baby, we had a friend join as well. When we arrived – entering using a key code which gained access to a huge and very cool medieval key – we nosy around our home for the night. I expected it to be spooky but it’s actually just really calm and pretty.

In front of the alter are camping chairs and nearby a table with tea and coffee making facilities. To the side perfectly positioned surrounded by stain-glass windows, are our camp beds, laid out ready for us. Fairy lights and battery-operated candles had been lit for our arrival which was a nice touch.

There’s no inside toilet in All Saints so instead you need to use a clean compost toilet in the garden. I decided I’d probably prefer to hold on rather than make my way through the cemetery for a pee in the middle of the night.

A comfortable night

Although All Saints is a huge church, it felt very snug inside tucking into our picnic and chatting while the baby happily crawled about the pews. The storm raging outside only added to the feeling.

We all opted for an early night (the baby would guarantee an early wake-up). The camp beds were surprisingly comfy, wider than the ones I’d slept on before. It was definitely colder than camping so I was glad for the extra blanket and for the hot water bottle I’d made myself before going to bed.

The baby was in a travel cot and slept like a dream. As did I, until the morning light disturbed me. I didn’t mind though. The storm was now over, I could enjoy the quiet early hours appreciating the stunning windows.

What to pack for champing?

The organisers of Champing really have got you covered, making your stay as comfortable as possible. You’ll get a camp bed with bedding (although Covid restrictions may require you to bring your own so check this out in advance). In addition, they’ll provide you with hot drinks and a kettle, camping chairs and a hot water bottle each.

All you need to bring is….

  • Clothes, including plenty of warm layers
  • Thick socks or slippers
  • Food and snacks (alcohol is permitted in moderation)
  • Book and a head torch
  • (optional) We thought a pair of speakers might have been nice for playing music in the evening

champing – the pros and cons….

I loved our night camping in an ancient church. The highlights included….

  • First time opening the door to the church using the medieval key
  • Great communication from Champing with clear instructions and ideas for what you can do in the area of your church
  • A unique and exciting experience that you won’t forget in a while
  • Fun evening cosying under blankets in front of glass stained windows having a picnic
  • The amazing photo opportunities
  • The special little touches such as fairy lights, hot water bottles and blankets

There’s very little they could do to improve the experience. I thought the organisers had done a great job of making a very big and cold place feel surprisingly homely. And at just £49 a night per person, it’s pretty great value for a glamping experience. Children cost just £1 a night and if in a group you will receive a significant discount. A bargain!

To book your night Champing go head to the official website.

Our night stay was gifted by Champing but we were not paid for this honest review. Follow me on FacebookInstagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel. *Any women reading this?* I founded a women’s adventure community called Love Her Wild. Check out our private Facebook page and see what adventures we have coming up. You can sign up to my newsletter here. Also check out my recently published book Three Stripes South, all about my life-changing adventure hiking the length of Israel.