HERITAGE experts have come up with a simply heavenly alternative to camping out in East Lancashire.

For those tired of 'glamping' in the great outdoors now comes the spiritual delights of 'champing'.

And there can be fewer welcoming examples than the 16th century St Leonard's Church in Old Langho.

Couples or families can settle down amid pews reputed to have been salvaged from the clutches of Henry VIII, during the dissolution of Whalley Abbey.

The altar, font and lectern, and detailed stone carvings, also still remain within the former Anglican chapel, which was bequeathed to the Churches Conservation Trust in 1990.

Stonework from the original abbey is also said to have been deployed when St Leonard's first came into being in 1557.

Neil Best, the trust's champing manager, said: "It is quite an unusual church because it was built during the reign of Mary I, when there was quite a lot of religious tension and not many were consecrated.

"We believe that some parts of the church were rescued from Whalley Abbey, when it was demolished by Henry VIII, particularly the pews used there.

"There's always been quite a lot of architectural interest with this particular church and it's proving especially popular with visitors."

Several services a year are still held at the Old Langho Road church and the graveyard is still open for burials.

But the site remains open for champing bookings at all other times.

The building, which can comfortably accommodate parties of four, should not be confused with the present St Leonard's Church, in Langho Road, which dates back to 1880.

Church leaders decided to relocate their parish headquarters when the area's population grew and became more concentrated around the railway line running through the village and neighbouring Billington.

Eighteen locations have been developed by the trust for champing but there are only two others in the north, at St Mary's in Longsleddale, just north of Kendal, and St Thomas Old Church Friarmere, at Delph, on the edge of the Peak District.

The conservation trust, a secular organisation, is charged with looking after disused churches of all denominations. Their only other location in East Lancashire is the Victorian former Holy Trinity Church in Blackburn, which is now used for concerts.