Ae you a “champer?”

By | Category: Travel news
Inside of a church with beds for champing

Inside St Thomas’s at Friarmere. Image © Churches Conservation Trust

Sitting in the ivory towers that is Just about Travel, sometimes I miss things. One of those is the new tourism holiday called “Champing.”

Except it may not be new. It might have been around for a few years or months.  On checking I find that it has been around for at least two years but it seems to have begun slowly and perhaps it is only now that it is collecting traction.

Champing is overnight camping in a church. Not just any church. You can’t pop into Westminster Abbey or York Minster and ask the rates for camping overnight. There are only twelve churches in the UK at the moment that offer the facility and they are all redundant churches.

This form of holiday has been conceived and is being promoted by the Churches Conservation Trust. Whilst there are only those twelve at the moment, the organisation is looking to add more churches to the list and not just redundant ones though quite how it will work around churches that have regular services  remains to be seen.

St Thomas’s Church at Friarmere in Lancashire is one such redundant church that is being used between April and November for champing. To be found on the edge of Saddleworth Moor, the location is ideal for walkers and that may be one reason why this church because a centre for champing.

As tourism grows ever more important for economic reasons, the Department of Culture etc has given £600,000 to develop its urban churches into first-rate visitor attractions. Whether as a result of that or the efforts of the Churches Conservation Trust, there was an 18% increase in visitor numbers last year. This year it hopes to reach a record two million visitors across its 349 sites.

In Hereford, there is a tourism model to support rural parishes for a high quality and revisable timber structure, which can be placed in open churches to provide a lettable insulated space. The idea is that, if successful, it can generate income needed to maintain the building, thereby releasing money for other purposes.

Might all 349 sites one day be a centre for champing? Might some of the larger ones be turned into small boutique hotels?

 

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