Parson Drove church to go batty with champing night

The Church of St John the Baptist in Parson's Drove

The Church of St John the Baptist in Parson's Drove

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A Fenland church will be hosting a new style of camping later this summer to allow people to spend the night with a colony of bats.

The closed St John the Baptist Church in Parson Drove will be hosting a “champing” evening on Friday, August 28.

The Churches Conservation Trust, which has looked after the building since 1974, has organised the event to mark International Bat Wildlife Night.

The 13th century church is a favourite with a colony of Natterer bats.

Colonies of this species of bat can be found across the country but it is a relatively rare species. The calls of the Natterer bat are very quiet but on a detector they are heard as irregular rapid clicks, with a sound similar to cellophane being crumpled.

A spokesman from the Churches Conservation Trust said the event was inspired by the latest trend of “champing” which is camping in a church.

She said: “An expert bat-handler will kick off the evening with a presentation about the fascinating creatures and visitors, young and old, will have a chance to try out the bat detectors.

“After sunset, the bats will appear from under the church roof and guests can help the CCT count them as they emerge for a night of feasting.”

The event has been organised to help educate people about the fascinating, and often unfairly maligned, creatures.

Camp beds for the night will be provided in the aisles of the church and guest can enjoy the unique “champing” experience before rising at 4.30am to enjoy the spectacle of the bats swarming as they re-enter the church.

A hearty breakfast will be provided at 8.30am.

The spokesman said: “This is a must for all wildlife enthusiasts. The bat survey will be crucial in helping ecologists on site understand more about these mysterious creatures.”

The event is suitable for children over the age of eight but families with younger children are welcome to join in without champing.

Bat Champing Packages range from £45 or £25 for under 16s including breakfast, bat talks, bat detectors and bed in an aisle.

For more information on the event visit the trust’s website at: www.visitchurches.org.uk