The Sanctuary Project: For Those Seeking Sanctuary

Sanctuary enables pilgrims to stay in in key waypoints on pilgrimage routes by providing low-cost accommodation with a high-impact experience in the heart of the community.

Enhance your pilgrimage with a night’s stay in a holy place, or simply find the most economical solution to enable you to make a long journey on foot. Sanctuaries offer you somewhere clean, safe and dry to sleep in return for a donation or other contribution.

The experience:

You should expect to feel welcomed! The sanctuary project has been set up to re-root us to an ancient tradition that has connected those making pilgrimage to the communities through which they travel for many hundreds of years. Taking up sanctuary at the heart of a community has proved, for many, to be an eye opening – even life changing – experience.

“The beauty and significance of the church, in contrast to the informal acts of unrolling a sleeping bag, brushing my teeth and settling down for the night, proved a powerful tool for contemplation. I felt that through sleeping within its walls, I came to know that church, not simply as a beautiful building of significance, but as a place where I had been welcomed, and made to feel at home. ” – Alice

Whether it’s the ancientness of the church, the memories in the stones, the stained glass and artwork, or the feeling of being welcomed by the community or connecting with the locals — sleeping in sanctuaries can provide a sounder form of sleep, a deeply restorative experience.


Each Sanctuary is unique; they are usually churches, but you may be sleeping in a church hall, village hall or sports pavilion. In some cases it may be an empty farm building or simply permission to camp.

The Sanctuary will provide, at the very least, basic sanitary facilities, but some have proper showers, kitchens or even offer you breakfast. You should always expect to provide your own bedding: as always, you should carry a sleeping bag with a comfort temperature rating appropriate to the expected temperatures for when you are travelling, and an (inflatable) rollmat to insulate you from the floor.

Choose your Sanctuary on a selection of routes. Our directory includes all essential information, such as location, facilities, timings and restrictions so you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Registering and Booking:

Sanctuaries offer you a place to sleep in trust. By registering for the scheme you offer reassurance to Sanctuaries and other pilgrims that you are sharing these places with the best of intentions.

Most Sanctuaries are active with every day purposes and understandably expect pilgrims to fit around their activities. Each location will outline the notice they require in order to accommodate pilgrims, whether they need proof of ID in advance of your arrival, when you will be able to access the space and when you need to leave.

Any restrictions or regulations outlined by each sanctuary must be respected, and you should always leave a sanctuary promptly in the morning, respect the space – and leave it as you found it.

The number of Sanctuaries will grow with good word of mouth: it is up to you to make sanctuaries glad you came!


Giving has always been an important tradition of pilgrimage. Sanctuaries offer sleep space because they want to welcome pilgrims. In many cases they will incur costs, from heating, lighting, or charging your mobile phone. In some cases they may provide you with refreshments, and the nominated contact will often give up their own time giving you access or cleaning facilities afterwards. Donations cover these costs and are a recognition of the gift of hospitality, contribute to the upkeep of the building and ensure the continuation of Sanctuary for the future. Recommended levels of donations may vary depending on the level of facilities available.

The British Pilgrimage Trust do not take a share of any donation pilgrims give to Sanctuaries.

Please note that some locations such as community centres may charge set fees rather than accepting donations, this will always be clearly stated in their information.


Other pilgrims may be taking sanctuary during the same evening as you: you should expect to be made aware of this. While each sanctuary will have its own safeguarding provisions in place, it is also important that you are given such information as to be able to make your own decisions regarding your own personal safety.

How do I register?

Sanctuary is now free to access for everyone. Please note that some locations are only open to Friends of the British Pilgrimage Trust, at their request. Our network is expanding all the time, sign up to our mailing list below to be the first to hear about new Sanctuaries.

You can find routes with Sanctuary here or on our main routes directory by selecting the Sanctuary filter.

Email us for further information.