The appeal of religious properties never ceases to wane all over the country. They tend to be characterful properties with plenty of room in good locations, and there is also the bonus that buying an old rectory is also a way of ensuring it’s not left to fall into ruin from lack of use.
Charlie Comber of Hayman-Joyce in the Cotswolds says that a rectory or vicarage is at the top of the wish list for many people when buying a country property. ‘Generally located in a village environment, these properties tend to have lots of space, high ceilings, large rooms and a large garden. They have plenty of period features, and may not have been extensively modernised, so offer scope for improvement,’ he explains.
House finder Nicola Oddy from Stacks Property Search & Acquisition owns a converted vicarage near St Newlyn, Cornwall. She says the huge advantage of being resident in one is that they often are in their original state with ‘plenty of original features, not gutted or changed.
‘My vicarage has oak shutters, ceiling roses, chandeliers and 14 fireplaces, all of them open.’
Things to remember about becoming the proprietor of a religious relic include the church bells (like Marmite, some people love them and some don’t), huge old trees with nesting crows and covenants on church property, usually listed.
‘Some say a percentage of the profits go back to the church when you sell, and others say you cannot hang washing up in the garden. Use a solicitor used to handling the purchase of church property.’
Tradition is another factor. If you own a big vicarage garden, it is likely this is where the church fete is held. Of course you can say no, but this might not prove to be popular with the locals.
Former church buildings currently for sale.
The Old Chapel, Little Compton, near Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire £425,000
A converted Baptist chapel dating from 1880 with three bedrooms and a 30-foot first floor living/kitchen area. The village has a fine parish church (as well as yours) and a popular pub, The Red Lion. Hayman-Joyce 01608 651188 www.haymanjoyce.co.uk
The Old Convent, Great Billing, Northamptonshire £640,000
Robert Godfrey from Bidwells, the selling agent, believes people like former ecclesiastical buildings because of their ‘history, design and architectural style. Anyone prepared to put some time in can end up with a spacious, interesting home for not a great deal of money.’ He reckons when the Old Convent is spruced up a bit, it is bound to be worth £750,000. Bidwells 01604 605050 www.bidwells.co.uk
Wingfield Priory, Wingfield, Suffolk £1.25 million
This Grade-II listed 16th century building has six bedrooms and three principal reception rooms. A multi-purpose barn with its own minstrels’ gallery and a rare wild orchid meadow also can be found within the 13 acres that come with the priory. Jackson-Stops & Staff 01473 218218 www.jackson-stops.co.uk
St Margaret’s Tower, Edinburgh £1.8 million
Currently a convent, there is permission to turn this 10-bedroom Grade B-listed Victorian baronial mansion into one private dwelling. Entertaining will be heavenly with five reception rooms. Buccleugh Town & Country 0131 220 7920 www.buccleuchtandc.com