Frequently Asked Questions
We get lots of questions about Champing™. Some of them are just “Huh”? and “What sort of a word is that?”, to which we answer it is a combination of the words church and camping, and it amuses us no end.
Here are the answers to some of the questions we have been asked in the past. We’ll keep adding to this page. If you can’t see what you really want to know below or on this website, jot it in here or just call, we don’t bite.
And most importantly, when you book a champ you receive a full information pack prior to your stay (but without the lanyards or itinerary).
Do I have to share the church with strangers?
Absolutely not (unless you consider some people in your party to be strange, but that’s something we can’t help with). It will be all yours, for you and yours alone. Once the booking is confirmed and the deposit paid, no other booking will be accepted.Please note – although you have sole Champing™ rights to the church after 6.00 pm and before 10.00 am, please be aware that some of our churches can receive a high footfall from visitors in the summer months. They might be pleasantly surprised to see you, so please make sure to tell them what it’s all about – spread the Champing™ love, people…
Do I have to bring my own bedding?
That depends….on whether you want to! We can offer you ChampBed hire, which means that not only do you get to sleep in our comfy fold-out camping beds by the glow of the battery-powered candle (more romantic than it sounds…), you can hire a bedding set from us for £25 golden coins of the realm. Each bedding set comprises a Season 3-4 mummy sleeping bag, a polycotton liner and a plump pillow complete with protector and pillowcase – none of that inflatable nonsense or sad little travel pillow for us!
These materials will be stored off-site as ancient stone buildings aren’t the best places for storing textiles, and our ChampBots will dry-clean the bags and launder the linens for that fresh sheets feel! Due to the cost of the laundering and logistics we will charge £25 per person for the hire, for the duration of your stay.
If you’re arriving by car, you can bring anything you like, the kitchen sink if you really must (although without H2O it might be a little disappointing). If in doubt, pack it.
Will the church be heated?
(Also known as “Will I be cold”? or “Just how cold is it”?)
Generally not. We find that churches are deliciously cool in the summer, but as huge open spaces they do tend to cool your body too, over time! The truth is that sleeping in churches is no colder than being under canvas; plenty of layers are the answer. And have another glass of warming wine…
Is breakfast included?
We offer the option to have breakfast at each church and the delicious choices vary from church to church. Further details will be with you prior to your stay and check back here to see our updates, our ChampBots never sleep. You’re very welcome to bring snacks of your own too, we only request that you don’t attempt to cook inside the church and pack your rations away, we love those poor church mice, but only as in whimsical poetry.
Please note we’ll supply you with a kettle, crockery and cutlery, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar and long life milk. And of course – the essentials. A corkscrew.
Can we drink alcohol?
Yes. Don’t be silly.
What facilities are there?
Heating Our Champing™ churches are generally not heated, which is why the Champing™ season only runs from March – September. See the answer to Will the church be heated?
Loos Swaffham Prior has a flushing loo and Longsleddale has one in the adjoining Community Hall. Fancy. In our other churches we provide an eco-loo that runs on solar power; a new type of composting loo or “dry separating toilet” to give it the full technical language… We call it the ChampLav. This is very hygienic, non-whiffy and comfortable! These loos don’t require plumbing, water or a sewage outlet. In some of our churches we house them in little wooden cabins complete with gargoyle above the door. You really wouldn’t know the difference, but a word to the wise – sit down at all times, lads!
Water Apart from at Swaffham Prior and Longseddale, we supply you with chilled water machines where there is electricity, and huge containers of water with a hand pump where there is none. Unsurprisingly, not a single one of our churches have shower facilities.
Electricity Apart from experiencing the odd bolt of lightning, the folk who built the churches up and down the land back in ancient times hadn’t really got on board with the whole electricity thing. (They probably had much more pressing things to do, like avoiding pestilence, famine and hungry animals with big teeth). So many of our churches don’t have an electrical supply at all. Some churches do, although it’s not usually a grand lighting scheme or somewhere to plug in your wine cooler. We do provide some lanterns and battery-operated candles, but feel free to bring torches, camping lanterns and whatever you feel necessary to light your champing™ experience.
All of our churches except Aldwincle, Billesley and Fylingdales have mains electricity.
Can I bring wax candles?
We’re into flattering, authentic lighting schemes as much as the next champer, but naked flames are a tad risky and candle wax can stain. We provide plenty of very realistic battery-operated candles (people have tried to light them in the past) and camping lanterns and torches. Please feel free to bring your own torches and lamps too, these countryside settings can get very, very dark! Oooooh!
Can I bring food?
Yes of course. Please just bring food that you don’t need to cook, safety (and ancient building fabric) first! The churches at Swaffham Prior and Longsleddale both have kitchen areas with fridges, and with electricity you can of course bring the microwave or toaster – just remember to take them away with you!
As noted above, we provide tea and coffee etc and in the fullness of time we plan to introduce the option of pre-ordering locally-sourced fayre to be waiting for you in the church. What an utter bore for our ChampBots, sampling all the local delicacies on your behalf…
Can I bring my pets?
Up to two good dogs are very welcome – or three, if they’re very small…
At Champ Towers we love the child species, we’re so down with the kids already, heck – some of our best friends are children…etc. Of course little people can come champing (but only the nice ones).
Seriously, children are always welcome to champ, it’s a fabulous spontaneous adventure for children aged from 1 to 101! Children can roam and explore the entire church and church yard, but please be aware that the building and grounds are still a consecrated space and rowdy games of football etc are not allowed in the church yard. There will be someone other open space nearby where the little ones can let off steam – if they have any energy left from exploring the church!
Do I have to be a Christian to go Champing?
No. That’s like saying that you need to be a surgeon to walk inside a hospital or only a teenager to shriek at a One Direction concert (ahem….)! We welcome people from all faiths, creeds and cultures. The building remains consecrated and will always be a place for contemplation, tranquillity and peace. The space has adapted to the requirements of humanity in the previous centuries and Champing™ is just the latest chapter in this ongoing tradition of change. So come on in.
Will there be a service on Sunday mornings?
No. Nor will any church bells start pealing at any time, or a be-cassocked choir arrive to polish their vocal chords (although that could be arranged, if you really want. Flash mob!). The church building has passed to the care of the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT www.visitchurches.org.uk), the national charity protecting historic churches at risk. You’re very welcome to hold your own sermons if you want to. Speak up, we can’t hear you at the back…
And if you want to find out more about all things churchy…
Take a look at our light-hearted guide to the etymology of a few architectural terms, pointy bits and all.