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‘Champing’: What It’s Like To Spend The Night In An Ancient Church

I roll out my sleeping bag as far away from all the dead bodies as possible, fluffing up my pillow and resting it on the wooden pew where I will spend the night, and I wonder: am I actually going to get any sleep tonight?

The dead bodies have, of course, been dead for a very long time: my closest neighbour, Catherine Norton, died in 1610, and what is left of her resides beneath a solid-looking ledger stone in the floor of the 12th century church in Kent where I am staying. But that doesn’t stop me from texting my friends who know I am “champing” tonight to say: “I’m literally surrounded by dead people. I’m sleeping on dead people.”

“Champing” – an endearingly Church of England-esque portmanteau for church camping – is a worthy initiative of The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), the charity tasked with protecting and maintaining many of the splendid but unused parish churches that dot the English countryside. There are some 18 participating churches, including a lime-washed kirk on the windswept Orkney coast and a majestic Gothic bell tower whose turrets soar high over Dartmoor. Entrusted to the care of the CCT, the £49-£59 fee for a night in one of their pews goes to help preserve more at-risk churches.

Read the full article by visiting the Independent Newspaper