Fancy a few nights away, breakfast included, sleeping on camp beds with the angels, in a quiet rural location, with well-behaved dogs and children welcome? If all this appeals, a new experience is on offer from 1 May to 30 September at St Michael the Archangel, Booton.
This is “champing” – camping in a redundant church (not what horses do). “Relax in quiet comfort and snuggle down in a truly ancient place,” suggests the website.
The cost per night is £55 per adult and £20 per child, with group rates available (eight people or more), and there is no price increase in the school holidays.
The price includes a “glorious cooked breakfast”, which is served at the Dial House in nearby Reepham.
The property will generally not be available before 3 pm on the first day of the booking and guests must leave before 11 am on their last day. “Champers” get exclusive use of the church, although they will need to bring their own pillows and bedding.
You might ask, will there be any heating? And the answer would be, no. And, ahem, what about the facilities? That would be the EcoLoo (compost toilet) outside; this is sustainable tourism – no baths/showers or running water!
The Grade II*-listed building in Booton, unused as a church since 1987, is among 347 in England under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, which is trying to find imaginative ways to bring people back inside them.
“The Trust has done some pretty cool stuff before, but making ‘champing’ into an actual thing has to take even the biscuitiest of biscuits,” the website continues. “It’s exclusive – you get the church all to yourself. Towers to climb, organs to play and so many options for church hide-and-seek – it’s all yours.”
So far, Booton is the only church in Norfolk available for “champing”. The scheme was piloted last year and there are now 10 churches across the southeast of England, explained Jessica Aiers of the Churches Conservation Trust. “We already have several bookings for Booton for this year, and there are plans to expand the network to other areas.”
- For further information, telephone 020 7841 0436 or visit www.champing.co.uk