PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:51 06 September 2020
Anyone looking for a staycation with a difference need look no further than the village of Booton.
Just outside Reepham, the village is home to one of Norfolk’s distinctive and striking churches, St Michael the Archangel’s.
Groups of up to 20 can holiday inside – feast on a picnic or takeaway food and even have a party, before falling asleep on camp beds lined up around the nave.
Gerry Foster, who sets up the church for guests as part of the Churches Conservation Trust’s ‘Champing’ programme, said: “It’s a magnificent venue – it looks like a mini cathedral. A lot of people have already tried camping and glamping and staying in shepherd’s huts. People who come here are not necessity religious, but are looking for something a little bit different.”
Champing normally runs from April to September, but because of the lockdown this year’s season started in July and will run until the end of October.
Miss Foster, 62, said: “It can get quite chilly in there, but I do provide hot water bottles and do what I can to make it comfortable for them.
“I can usually put out chairs and rugs and all sorts of different things but this year it’s a bit more limited, and it’s fully cleaned after guests leave and before new people arrive.”
Booton’s church is known as the Cathedral of the Fields thanks to its soaring twin spires, and its ceiling is decorated with carved wooden angels.
The church owes its design to eccentric 19th century Rector Whitwell Elwin, a descendant of John Rolfe and Pocahontas.
If groups stay for several nights they can lock up their belongings in a vestry during the daytime, when the church remains open to visitors.
MORE: Rest in peace – with B&B in beautiful Booton church
But Miss Foster said guests were free to do what they wanted inside the church, which has not had a congregation for many years.
She said: “They can’t cook in the church because that would be a fire hazard, but they can bring in takeaways, and drink alcohol in there, provided they’re mindful it’s still a church.
“We do have some big groups – the first year I was doing it there was group that came in on a hen night and there were about 20 empty champagne bottles lined up the next day, so they obviously had a lovely time.”
To find out more, visit: champing.co.uk
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