A church is offering guests a magical night under its roof, as campers can sleep inside and watch the sun rise in its magnificent stained glass windows.
The Church of St Mary the Virgin in Edlesborough has opened its doors to a scheme called ‘champing’ - camping in a church - where friends and families can pay to spend a night in the 800-year-old building.
Fondly known as ‘The Church on the Hill’, and in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust, the scheme was started to help preserve the historic place of worship for future generations.
Chana James, of The Churches Conservation Trust, said: “We are a national charity looking after churches at risk - those that are not used regularly for worship. They are all our own and run by volunteers.
“This is the first year of champing for Edlesborough and it has been really popular so far. If you think of it as camping of some sort or other, you expect a tent - but you don’t have to put one up; the church is like a rather big tent!
“Inside there are beautiful Victorian wall paintings, stained glass windows and Medieval misericords, some with owl and mermaid designs.
“You can immerse yourself in history.”
The champing season runs from March to September and guests are given the key to the church for their night’s stay, also having the opportunity to enjoy breakfast in the nearby Heirloom Café (£12.50).
Champers can bring a group of two to ten people, and there is even a composting toilet outside which is eco-friendly and works via solar panels.
Chana said: “You could bring games, cards, a bottle of wine; it’s a chance to get away from it all, to get away from the digital world.
“It’s completely exclusive, so you have the hall to yourself - you are not sharing with other groups.
“It makes it really special and it is very atmospheric.
“We look at rural churches for champing because it lends itself to going out into the countryside and it is good for cycling. St Mary’s is beautiful with views of Aylesbury Vale and the Chilterns, and with the Dunstable Downs nearby you can point out lots of things to do.”
Camp beds are set up inside the church, with a cosy sitting area, rugs and cushions, so all guests need to bring is bedding.
Rates are from £49 per person, plus there are group discounts for eight or more. Dogs are welcome too.
Chana concluded: “Champing is the unique concept of camping overnight in historic churches, brought to the world by The Churches Conservation Trust and the income will go towards conserving the Trust’s historic churches.”
To book, visit: http://www.champing.co.uk .