A historic haven for non-conformist worship, close to the Norman castle and Saxon lanes of Lewes with soothing sea views and the South Downs National Park on the doorstep.
  • Sleeps: 2-16
  • Bathroom: 1
  • Minimum stay: 1 night

First there was camping, then there was glamping, and now, there’s Champing! 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.

Champing 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 and selected partners, 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?

Up to sixteen Champers can enjoy a unique group adventure in this special historic space, sleeping beneath the stained-glass window and 16th century Tudor rose carved during the reign of Henry VIII. You’ll also be surrounded by the historic houses and Saxon twittens – or lanes! – that characterise ancient Lewes, with soothing valley views that lead your gaze out to the sea.

But once you step inside, this incredible space is yours to enjoy. You’ll see everything you need for your stay set out for you – comfy, fold-out camp beds, camping chairs, tea & coffee making provisions, just bring the milk for your well-earned cuppa on arrival!

You’ll also have a fully-accessible toilet, washing facilities, and a five-star food hygiene-rated kitchen for a more luxurious stay. If there are more than eight Champers in your group, catered dinners and breakfasts can be arranged – perfect for a special celebration!

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 (corkscrew provided).

During your stay at Tom Paine’s Chapel, be sure to savour the elegance and rich, fascinating history that imbue your surroundings. Built upon the ancient Norman wall, garrison stables and store rooms of the defensive wall and gateway, the chapel itself dates all the way back to the 12th and 13th centuries.

Keep reading

At a glance

  • Champing (Church Camping) at Tom Paine’s Chapel in Lewes, set within the South Downs National Park.
  • Exclusive use of the charming historic church between 4pm and 10am each day for up to 16 guests.
  • Two well-behaved dogs also welcome.
  • Everything you need set up for your arrival and taken away afterwards.
  • Kitchen, washing and toilet facilities are provided – just bring your bedding, snacks and drinks. Catered meals can be arranged on request.
  • Perfect for exploring the South Downs Way and a collection of world-renowned venues including Brighton Royal Pavilion and Glyndebourne Opera House.
  • Lewes is home to an eclectic collection of shops and eateries, including the original Bill’s café/bistro.


  • Disability Accessible
  • Dog Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Large Groups


Sleeps up to 16, fold-out camping beds, camping chairs, kettle, crockery, cutlery, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar, corkscrew. Provided: electricity, washing and toilet facilities.

Local Activities

Walking, cycling, picnic spots, historic sites, pubs, shops, restaurants, local landmarks, theatres, galleries, museums.

More information

In 1700 it was officially licensed and recorded as a legal place of non-conformist worship, and is the last chapel of its kind in Lewes. The first lending library was established there in 1761; a library undoubtedly used by the revolutionary leader and writer Thomas Paine himself when he lived next-door at Bull House.

There’s plenty to see and do in the surrounding area, with international venues that include Glyndebourne Opera House and Brighton’s iconic Royal Pavilion close by. The South Downs Way passes close by – so whether you’re walking or cycling, what better excuse to immerse yourselves in country charm?

Champing gives you a break from modern life, which includes the need to cook if you’d rather not! Along with catered meals, you can avail yourselves of the tasty dishes and drinks available at the original Bill’s café/bistro, and many more besides.

Sadly, the time will come to leave Tom Paine’s Chapel, but it couldn’t be more hassle-free. After your departure, everything will be put 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 Champing should definitely be on your bucket list! And where better than in Tom Paine’s Chapel – a spectacular representation of independent life and thought across centuries, in a truly magnificent location?

Things to note

Champing season at Tom Paine’s Chapel runs throughout the year, no minimum stay requirement but booking requires 2 people minimum. Champers have sole access to this chapel between 4pm and 10am each day, but please note that there are some days on which events commence at 9am – please ask for details if needed. Champers should bring their own bedding including pillows, sleeping bags, duvets and blankets, up to two dogs (or three if they are small), children are welcome and encouraged to stay. Champers are welcome to bring their own alcohol and provisions to eat in.

Where you'll be staying

Lewes, East Sussex

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