Have you ever dreamed of owning your own church home? Church conversions have been the rage among some hipster property owners looking for more than a rustic home. Swear by the romance of living in a fortress of stone with stained glass windows and giant marble statues of saints and the fact that weddings always take place in one for the devout? Sampaguita, the local rock legend swears by the latter in her classic ditty--"Sa lumang simbahan" (a Larry Miranda original).
You can whet your taste for living in a church by trying a new trend in Slow Tourism, now attracting plenty of adventure seekers looking to slow down and enjoy a quiet weekend or a night out--Church Camping! Check visitchurches.org.uk for the complete rundown.
Image Credit visitchurches.org.uk (Photograph by David Joyner)All Saints' Church in Aldwincle, England: inflatable The Conservatory of Churches in England has singled out several of its decommissioned Grade I and II heritage, town churches and converted them into bed-and-breakfast, camping-holiday destinations--these repurposed churches are set up with inflatable beds or rustic wooden bed and mattresses for candlelight stays for visitors who can arrange for extra local activities arranged with their stay.
mattresses and beddings plus candlelight camp nights.
Coined as "champing" by the British online press (a really awful coined word--to mimic glamping--for a sweet holiday idea ), a holiday at a rural English church costs around 55 English pounds (around Php 3500) and gets you 2 days and a night. You get breakfast prepared for you using local farm-fresh delights from a nearby Bed &Breakfast and you can go canoeing at the nearby lake during the day, or have a nighttime visit from the town bard arranged to regale you with local myths and folktales by candlelight before you tuck in. Yoga sessions are also part of their package of extra activities.
Family camping trip at Fordwich in Kent
In Europe, there is a holiday advocacy called the Slow Tourism movement which offers stays in areas where visitors gets a taste of the local laid back lifestyle and enjoy the rustic places as they exist, preserving historical settings and local traditions--instead of tuning everything into a tourist trap environment.
In the Philippines, the snooty Catholic Church keeps most local edifices as private property, so you won't find any decommissioned church in the rural areas of our country. But if any enterprising Slow Tourism advocate would like a low-impact (compared to tourist trap resorts or boutique motels), high-return investment that is built around the idea of church camping, it might be less prohibitive to construct medieval style, vaulted church buildings (which can double as storm shelters) specifically tuned for a camping, bed-and-breakfast-like holiday weekend. Even the local tourists from nearby cities, would pay a premium to enjoy a night's stay at a church building in a remote provincial location like say Port Barton in Palawan or even up north in the Batanes islands. Think of monastery-style edifices and you have a steamrolling idea. Who cares about chic, boutique hotels and infinity pools anyway?
The real deal for anyone worth his salt investing in tourism accommodations will be church camping sites. Complete with stained glass religious iconography and hand-carved stone or wood statues of angels and saints. Candlelit, team-building, weekend stay-overs will be a blast if you can scale the church to cater to small group travelers, and be a hit for pairs and 4-person families.
If you do get the chance to roam around the English countryside as backpacker or off-grid tourist, a church camping holiday may be right up your list of fun stuff--the best holidays may be those where you just sit in your bed and enjoy the view of the stained-glass iwindows filtering the sunlight into your room. Put on some True Norwegian Black in your media player, or shoegazer; and you're gold. For the price of admission, a church camping trip is a steal.