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Champing™ Swaffham Prior

England / Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire
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A hilltop Georgian church in a little Cambridgeshire village, offering a sensational space for a memorable Champing™  experience.

First there was camping, then there was glamping, and now, there's ChampingTM. Church camping is revolutionising the traditional camping break, giving you exclusive use of some of the UK's greatest listed buildings for the most unforgettable sleepover of your life.

ChampingTM came about in finding long term, sustainable uses for stunning churches that are no longer used for regular worship.  Cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, these magnificent buildings are some of the greatest architectural wonders our country has to offer, and often come with fascinating histories too. So what better way to appreciate one than to stay in it?

The church of St Cyriac & St Julitta offers you the perfect ChampingTM opportunity.  Located atop a hill in the little Cambridgeshire village of Swaffham Prior, and sharing a churchyard with its neighbour, St Mary's, you'll spot its unusual octagonal tower from miles away.  Dating back to 1806, St Cyriac & St Julitta is a gorgeous Georgian reincarnation of the crumbling medieval ruin that once stood on this spot, and offers a sensational space for a memorable ChampingTM experience.

Once you step inside, this incredible space is yours to enjoy. You'll see the ChampBots will have set out everything you need for your stay - comfy, fold-out camp beds, camping chairs and cushions for an extra touch of home.  If you want to move things around just to your liking, go ahead!  After all, this is your home for the night, and you're free to arrange it as you please.

Those ChampBots are even kind enough to provide teabags, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar, long-life milk and all your cups and cutlery - everything you need for your well-earned cuppa on arrival. Bottled water is provided, as are camping lanterns and battery candles for when it gets dark at night. There's even a ChampLav set up for you - a dry separating toilet to take care of all necessities.

Forget any preconceptions of tiptoeing round and whispering in the church; as your home for the night, you're free to chat, laugh, sing, dance around - whatever takes your fancy.  Kids can run about or play the best game of hide-and-seek ever, while adults can relax back in a camping chair with a bottle of wine (bring your own, or pre-order when booking - the ChampBots even provide the corkscrew!).

As you start to unwind at St Cyriac & St Julitta, you can really begin to appreciate this stunning space.  White plastered walls and beautiful clear glass windows create a light, airy feel, slim columns add a touch of elegance, while the high ceilings make for the most fantastic acoustics - whether you're playing music or making your own ...

Swaffham Prior is a pretty little village and well worth a wander, as is neighbouring Swaffham Bulbeck.  Kids will have fun in the village's play park, while the whole family can enjoy a ramble through the idyllic countryside surrounding The Swaffhams.

You're also ideally placed for exploring historic Cambridge, just 9 miles away.  Step back in time at Kings College Chapel before enjoying afternoon tea or a spot of retail therapy in the city centre, or perhaps pay a visit to nearby Denny Abbey or Angelsey Abbey.  Newmarket is only 6 miles away, where you can pick up some local goodies at the Farmers' Market each Tuesday, while picturesque Ely and its stunning cathedral are also in easy distance - just 14 miles away.

ChampingTM not only gives you a break from modern life, it also gives you a break from cooking.  You can't cook inside the church or churchyard, but this gives you the perfect excuse to tuck into delicious home-cooked meals at The Red Lion in the heart of Swaffham Prior, washed down with a local ale or cider.  And when it comes to the most important meal of the day, breakfast is served at The Black Horse Pub in neighbouring Swaffham Bulbeck - just a mile and a half down the road.  

Sadly, the time will come to leave St Cyriac & St Julitta, but it couldn't be more hassle-free.  After your departure, the ChampBots will take everything away as if by magic.  You don't get that in a camping field! 

Whether you're young or young at heart, part of a group or traveling on your own, a spot of ChampingTM should definitely be on your bucket list!  And where better than in Swaffham Prior - your little piece of heaven in the East Anglian countryside?

Things to note

ChampingTM season runs March - September, no minimum stay requirement, Champers should bring their own bedding including pillows, sleeping bags, duvets and blankets, up to two (or three if they are small) dogs are welcome upon prior arrangement, children are welcome and encouraged to stay although they must be supervised and no ball games are permitted in the church yard, Champers are welcome to bring their own alcohol, and wine may be pre-ordered on booking. Champers have sole access to their church after 6pm and before 10am. A pop-up afternoon tea shop selling tea and cakes operates at this location on Saturdays in 2017: 13th May, 27th May, 15th July and 29th July.

See the video below to find out how the ChampingTM team transform an empty, serene church (St Thomas, Friarmere) into a cosy champ and back again, in the blink of an eye.

Tried and tested

"I champed with a group of my friends and we had such an amazing time! Dinner at the pub was very yummy and we then went back to the church to play cards and tell stories! Felt like we'd all shared a unique experience!"

"Most impressed by the facilities, champing furnishings and the bits and pieces such as electric candles, electric storm lanterns and a surprisingly good range of teas and coffees for the morning. Vast spaces so that we could occupy all corners of the church."
A Guthrie-Jones

Premier host
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The basics

Region: Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire
Cost (from): £49 per night per person
Sleeps: Up to 16
Minimum stay: 1 night
Property ref: 338

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Sleeps up to 16, fold-out camping beds, rugs, cushions, camping chairs, hammocks, kettle, crockery, cutlery, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar, long life milk, corkscrew, breakfast provided.

Local activities

Chapels, abbeys, orchards, markets, cycling, horse riding, birdwatching, punting, golf, horse racing, National Trust properties.

At a glance

  • ChampingTM (Church Camping) at St Cyriac & St Julitta, Swaffham Prior in Cambridgeshire
  • Exclusive use of gorgeous Georgian church - from single travelers to large groups
  • Everything you need set up for your arrival and taken away afterwards
  • Just bring your bedding, snacks and drinks
  • Village pub serves home-cooked dinners; breakfast available in neighbouring Swaffham Bulbeck
  • Explore The Swaffhams and Cambridgeshire countryside
  • Newmarket - 6 miles; Cambridge - 9 miles; Ely - 14 miles

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Host Unusual Limited
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