There’s camping, then there was glamping. We can now go ‘Champing’ – and no; the word is not a misspelling of chomping but rather the quirky-sounding result of ‘church’ and ‘camping’ merged together. As alternative eco-friendly stays go, champing is a quirky but brilliant idea. Imagine waking up to this architecture!
Modern ‘Pilgrims’ can forgo all the weariness and empty-stomachs that usually prompted people in the olden days to seek refuge at a Church. Instead, travel-hungry pilgrims can arrange for the services of a storyteller or go on leisurely walks. Since the Churches are no longer used as a place of worship the willing traveler can have the Church all to himself.
Champing is overseen and championed (pun intended) by the Churches Conservation Trust in England. They’ve tapped into a delightfully unique idea that awakens our inner Byronic Hero’s desire for off-the-grid adventures. Their website reads, “Where else are you able to snuggle down in a truly ancient space that has not changed much for hundreds (and hundreds) of years?” That is quite a watertight argument.
Champing promises to be an unforgettable getaway apt for the scholar, the artist, the travel enthusiast and the whole family. Here is a list of the top three Churches that are definitely in my travel itinerary:
St Michael the Archangel Church, Booton, Norfolk
The official Champing Site introduces St Michael the Archangel as a “favourite from our 2016 Champing™ season,” and it is not hard to see why. St Michael the Archangel in Booton, Norfolk is a worthy stop for any travel lover.
The Church wonderfully cozy-looking in spite of its huge size. Those that are architecturally-inclined will no doubt notice the spectacular hammerbeam roof, which is decorated with gorgeously carved wooden angels.
All Saints Church, Aldwincle, Northamptonshire
It would be easy to imagine that this particular church has jumped right out the pages of a gorgeously illustrated fairytale. All Saints Church in Aldwincle seems to owe its beauty to the many improvements that were made over the centuries. Though the church originated in the 13th century, in the 14th century the vestry and the north aisle were added and the tower, chapel and the porch were built next, during the 15th century. This historic agglomeration of so many different stages of human thought in one building makes the All Saints Church a must visit and a definite pin on a traveler’s map.
All Saints can also boast of being a historical treasure because of its peculiar relation to the poet John Dryden, who would become England’s first Poet Laureate in 1668. John Dryden’s maternal grandfather was rector in All Saints and the poet himself was later baptized there. If this is not enough enticement then perhaps the promise of an enormous breakfast cooked by ‘smiley Father Tim’ or, as the Champing website suggests, “messing about on the River Nene,” might win you over.
St Andrew’s Church, Wroxeter
This is a truly exceptional site. St. Andrew’s Church was built on the Roman site of Viroconium, a long since gone Roman town. According to local legend ancient Roman footsteps can still be heard in the vicinity. But that’s not all St. Andrew’s has to offer. It boasts of having a charming interior capable of transporting anyone to a time where troubadours roamed the streets.
Champing might be ahead of its time. They say that the best part of camping is being under the stars but the veracity of that statement can easily be contested by waking up beneath gorgeous stained glass windows. Absolutely magical!
Check out our Travel Ideas for more stunning destinations for your next vacation!