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?
St Michael the Archangel in bonnie Booton is a perfect church for ChampingTM , whether this is your first or fifteenth time! You'll find this stunning building in a quiet country lane, overlooking the Norfolk countryside. Grade II* listed, St Michael the Archangel was built in the late 1800s and designed by the rector at the time, Reverend Whitwell Elwin. Taking inspiration from the French Gothic style, he included a variety of eccentric architectural details, topping it all off with stunning twin towers.
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!).
Once you've settled into your new home-from-home, take a while to enjoy all the amazing features St Michael the Archangel has to offer: wood paneling, enchanting stained glass windows, and carved angels aloft in the hammerbeam roof, carved by a local master carver. This stunning space even includes features inspired by Glastonbury Abbey, Lichfield Cathedral, and St Stephen's Chapel in the Palace of Westminster - an impressive mix.
St Michael the Archangel is also the ideal location for exploring the glorious Norfolk countryside. With the whole of the 26-mile Marriotts Way at your feet, grab a bike or your walking shoes and enjoy gorgeous landscapes and fantastic wildlife in either direction towards Norwich and Aylsham. The River Bure is perfect for jumping into a canoe or onto a paddle board, while a trip on the Bure Valley Railway is great fun for the whole family.
Daredevils can see the world from a whole new perspective at Bewilderwood, where treetop adventures await 16 miles away. Then, of course, there's popular Norwich, while the magnificent Norfolk coast is 20 miles from Booton - perfect for a daytrip.
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 reason to sample home-cooked comforts at the variety of excellent village pubs you'll find nearby, including The Buckinghamshire Arms in Blickling and The Marsham Arms in Hevingham. Breakfast is served at the Dial House in neighbouring Reepham (pronounced ‘Reefham'), setting you up the right way for your day ahead.
Sadly, the time will come to leave St Michael the Archangel, 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 if your perfect holiday involves gorgeous Norfolk countryside, no end of country pubs, and a truly spectacular Gothic church as your bedroom, St Michael the Archangel at Booton is definitely the one for you.
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.
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
"We had the most amazing Champing
experience at Booton Norfolk sleeping under angels and bats flying over.
All quite surreal, picnic in church yard and the most amazing breakfast
at the Dial house in Reepham. Thanks so much for a most amazing
"Simply glorious staying the night in such a stunning setting, MAGICAL."
June, Andrew and Susan
Region: Booton, Norfolk
Cost (from): £49 per night per person
Sleeps: Up to 16
Minimum stay: 1 night
Property ref: 335
Sleeps up to 16, fold-out camping beds, cushions, camping chairs, hammocks, kettle, crockery, cutlery, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar, long life milk, corkscrew, breakfast provided.
Art galleries, Blicking Hall, stately homes, castles, forts, steam train, horse sanctuary, zoo, Norfolk Broads, coastal walks, beaches.
At a glance
- ChampingTM (Church Camping) at St Michael the Archangel in Booton, Norfolk
- Exclusive use of exquisite Gothic 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
- Enjoy home-cooked dinners at a variety of village pubs nearby, with breakfast served at the Dial House, Reepham
- The ideal break to the Norfolk countryside; Norwich - 12 miles; Norfolk coast - 20 miles