Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Setting the Foundations

The Old Rectory: Front View

 It was around Easter time that we heard it was on the market.  The home of a marketing company for many years, the partners had been trying to let it as a business but with no success.  My friend, B, emailed me on a Thursday morning to say it was up for sale.  I emailed S: 'The Old Rectory is on the market.  Should we get the details?'  His answer was almost immediate.  I went straight to the estate agents and looked around the house that afternoon.  It needs about £150k spent on it, I was advised.  But to my untrained eyes, it seemed reasonably sound, just in need of some patching up and decorating in places.  Of course, there was no bathroom but, being a business, it had five loos.  There was a sort of kitchen at the back with a dishwasher but no cooker.  The window sills looked in need of replacement in places and who knows what the roof was like.

The Old Rectory: North Wing
And it wasn't just one house but three.  With this to the right hand side.  And another similar building to the left.  But the rooms at the front (Georgian?) were beautifully proportioned, light and bright, with tall ceilings and simple elegance.  A flagstone corridor bisects the two 'houses' at the back with a series of rooms on the left and a future kitchen on the right.  Upstairs was a confusing jumble of staircases and rooms, fireplaces and cupboards.

S came down to see it the next day and we put in a bid.  However, we had two houses to sell.  My house, over the road from the Old Rectory, where my mother lives and S's house in Staverton, Northamptonshire, a beautiful 17th Century cottage that it will break our hearts to leave.  But we could see the Old Rectory being our grand design and, perhaps, an eventual exit route from the stressful working world that we both inhabit.  We had thoughts of B&B, a rented top floor, small weddings, letting the house out for TV and cinema, cookery evenings.  Our imaginations ran riot.

But there was another bid in the frame.  And this bidder had a buyer.  We graciously shrugged and moved on.

A month or so later, the estate agent rang.  By a quirk of fate, S was at home and took the call.  The bidder had lost their buyer, were we still interested?  We were.  But then there was another buyer, who was bidding and then the original buyer reappeared with another bid.  We moved hastily, secured the money by remortgaging both properties and our bid was accepted.  And that's the start of the story.  We hope.  Solicitors are on stand-by, mortgage applications are going through, houses are yet to sell or be let, permission is awaited for the Old Rectory to become a home once again.

And this blog will be my record of our renovation project, detailing the ups and downs, the triumphs, the rows and, hopefully, the revitalisation of this building into a much loved home.  I hope you'll join me on this journey.  There is lots to discover about the house, about renovation and about ourselves.


  1. An elderly mother!? I THINK NOT!

  2. I'm sitting here with a cocktail on a hot beach in Turkey reading this with envy. Have bought lots of design mags with me and have lots of ideas. Jx