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Champing at St Mary the Virgin Church - a unique place to stay in Kent

Kirsty
July 19, 2022

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What I loved about it:

The unique experience of camping overnight in a historic building and knowing that by doing so you are helping to preserve these ancient spaces.

Location:

Fordwich, Kent (there are other churches across the country)

Suitable for:

History lovers, families, people that prefer a bit more comfort when camping or those who are just looking for something different!

Value for money (out of 10):

8

Website:

Champing at St Mary the Virgin Church

As we made our way through the churchyard and towards the church itself it was strange, yet exciting to think that this was where we would be spending the night. My little boy raced ahead eager to see what was inside. We followed him, sleeping bags in hand, into St Mary the Virgin Church to set up for the night.

Now you may not have heard of church camping or Champing as it’s better known before but it’s something I’d highly recommend for a unique overnight experience. If like me you aren’t a massive fan of camping then this is definitely the next best thing! It combined my love of exploring historic buildings with the kids sense of adventure and was something completely different to anywhere we had ever stayed before.

St Mary the Virgin Church is a small historic church in the village of Fordwich – Britain’s smallest town. Set in a pretty church yard next to the river stour, it makes for a peaceful and restful stay – well if your kids allow it! The church dates from the Norman era and is grade I listed. During your stay the church is open to visitors but is all yours after 4 pm until 10am the next day.

The church mice (the lovely volunteers) will set up prior to your stay so that all you need to bring is bedding, some games to keep you entertained and perhaps the odd bottle of wine! Be warned the church has no heating so it can get quite chilly even in summer. However, we arrived on what had been a very warm day and didn’t find it too bad. If you are not so lucky there are lots of hot water bottles provided.

Set up for us by the church mice were camping chairs, camp beds (comfier than they look) and plenty of fairy lights, lanterns and battery-operated candles to make it all feel very homely. There are tea and coffee facilities and a chilled water machine. An eco toilet has been installed within the church, there is however no shower. The camp beds were set up in the box pews and my son was thrilled to have his own ‘bedroom’ he very quickly made himself at home! Food is not included so ensure to bring your own unless you plan on heading out.

People have asked me if it was scary staying in a church and I won’t lie, it was a bit! Especially as a huge storm started – imagine a pitch black church with lightning illiminating the church windows! However it was all part of the fun – a bit like watching a horror movie. The children thought nothing of it and slept as well as they did at home.

Fordwich itself is a quaint and charming village close to Canterbury. It’s great if you enjoy walking, you can get to local footpaths and into woodland quite quickly from the church. It is also on the River Stour, so great if you are a canoeing or paddleboarding fan. You can hire equipment from Canoe Wild, just a short walk away.
There aren’t many food options in Fordwich, although Canterbury is only a short drive away and has lots more choices. In Fordwich itself you will find the popular Michelin-starred Fordwich Arms, perfect for a special occasion however with our wild children in tow we opted for family-friendly The George and Dragon.

We had a great time Champing at St Mary the Virgin Church and would definitely try out some more locations across the country – you can check the Champing website for other churches. It was a completely unquiqe experience unlike anywhere we have ever stayed before. The children loved exploring the church – it was great for hide and seek – and my husband and I enjoyed the peace and quiet once they were asleep!

REVIEW

This is a Girl About review. I was invited by the management free of charge in exchange for an honest and frank review. All my opinions are my own and in no way have they been swayed by their kind invite. Girl About reviews are always 100% honest. We only publish reviews that, for the most part, are positive.
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Kirsty
July 19, 2022

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