Champing in Shropshire: Stay in room with a pew at church hotel
It is far from your average hotel or bed and breakfast. A surge in popularity for travellers choosing to spend their breaks sleeping in a church has led to "champing" – church camping – arriving in the county.
St Andrew's Church, in Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury, has become the first church in Shropshire to be used for this purpose.
The redundant church, which is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, usually opens its doors to visitors to gaze at its features, which include three sixteenth-century alabaster tombs.
But it is now one of 12 churches being used for champing, where people can stay for between £19 and £59 a night.
Camp beds are set up inside the church, with a cosy sitting area, complete with rugs and cushions.
Guests are just asked to bring their own bedding and breakfast is an optional extra.
The trust said the church, which is a Grade I-listed building, is ideally placed to explore Wroxeter Roman City and attractions such as Wroxeter Roman Vineyard.
The Saxon church was built on the Roman site of Viroconium, the fourth largest town of Roman Britain.
Though some of the building dates from before the Domesday Book of 1086, it has been altered and enlarged throughout the centuries.
The interior dates mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Each of the 16th century alabaster tombs has a lifesize, and eerily lifelike, painted figure lying in repose.
Travellers, who can be individuals, couples or groups, will have the church exclusively to themselves between 6pm and 10am, with the season running from March 31 to the end of September.
The scheme was the brainchild of Peter Aires, director of the trust in the south east, who suggested that people might want to spend the night in otherwise unused churches.
It was trialled using a church in Northamptonshire in 2014 but the demand for champing grew four-fold last year, prompting the trust to roll the scheme out further.
Crispin Truman, chief executive for the Churches Conservation Trust, said: "Champing has proved immensely popular with people who want to try a completely new experience."
The experience, which can be booked via champing.co.uk, is basic, with no heating or showers but access to toilets.