1883 Church – North Elmham, Norfolk, England

Off Market / Archived
Posted August 2015. This home has been archived on OHD. The sold status is unknown. Added to OHD on 8/21/15 - Last OHD Update: 11/26/17 - 20 Comments
North Elmham, Norfolk
  • £950,000 / $1,490,977
  • 6 Beds
  • 7000 Sq Ft
  • 6 Ac.
Sowerbys are delighted to offer this truly unique former Victorian chapel, occupying around six acres (sts) and surrounded by beautiful countryside at the site of the old County School to the north of North Elmham, just 9 miles from Dereham and 15 miles from the pretty market town of Holt.

This is a chapel conversion like no other, with over 7,000 square-foot of accommodation abound with original features; in fact the property (and the story behind it) even featured in the New York Times. The original chapel was built c.1883 to serve the needs of the young men attending the school before its closure in 1895. Following the schools closure, the site was used as a Dr. Barnardo's Home and then as Watts Naval College, where the chapel continued to play an important role. However, after the naval school closed in 1953 the chapel fell into disrepair and by the time the current owners found it in the mid-1980's, it was being used to house pigs. An eight year period of painstaking restoration and refurbishment followed to create the residence that stands today.

The property retains a sense of ecclesiastical grandeur, particularly in the reception hall and in the first floor drawing room where Portland stone columns and the vaulted timber roof stand out. Also of note are the leaded arched windows, the handmade solid oak staircase and the impressive timber parquet floor.

In terms of the accommodation, the features are too numerous to list individually. The majority of the upper floor is a dramatic open-plan family area with a balcony at one end which overlooks the surrounding countryside. The kitchen is a large farmhouse style room with an Aga. The master bedroom on the first floor enjoys a sense of luxury, whilst five more bedrooms can be found from an inner hall which extends throughout the spine of the ground floor. There is also a conservatory, snug, dining hall and a cellar; as well as an independent annexe which includes a sitting room, kitchen, bathroom and three bedrooms, built over a double garage and workshops.
Last Active Agent
Sowerbys, Canterbury House, 20 Market Place 20 Market Place, Dereham, NR19 2AY      01362 685047
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20 Comments on 1883 Church – North Elmham, Norfolk, England

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  1. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10321 comments

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    One of the best conversions I’ve ever seen! Thanks Fergus for the share!

    • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

      Absolutely. So rare that a church conversion respects the ecclesiastical architecture and makes of it a proper secular house that’s grounded in history and solid, substantial design. It’s the antithesis of the usual approach which desecrates the old and explodes a begrudging, sardonic modernist land mine scattering of thin gypsum partition walls and hard lines that start and stop with no finesse, no punctuation, no architectural intent.

      Of course this place has a few things going for it: and handsome and exceptional articulated church, a beautiful setting, a hefty budget, an architect who clearly worked from a point of appreciation of what he started from, expensive new materials and features added in the same vocabulary as what was there in 1883, and the current owners who furnished and decorated the place as a proper house – not as church with a few sofas scattered around like a furniture showroom. Beautiful place, and one of the few (easily counted on one hand) church conversions that seems just right. If only the fate of the many good, disused churches were anywhere near this quality.

  2. MarionMarion says: 84 comments

    you took the words right out of my mouth!
    This is hands down the best church conversion I have ever seen. Simply outstanding in every way!

  3. Avatargoodejim10 says: 5 comments

    This place is unreal; a dream come true. Unbelievable.

  4. AvatarSapphy says: 417 comments

    I have died and gone to old house heaven!

  5. Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 449 comments

    Here’s the NYT article from 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/greathomesanddestinations/a-converted-church-that-went-from-sty-to-stylish.html?_r=0

    Interesting to learn from the article that the architect was not an architect at all but the owner, a retired caterer, who did most of the work himself.

    • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 10321 comments

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Thanks for finding that. Makes this conversion even more impressive!

    • JimHJimH says: 4197 comments
      OHD Supporter

      The article had a few Believe it or Nots besides no architect or professional builders: the annex building is new construction, the chapel was used as a piggery for decades, the owners bought the place in 1984 for about $80k.
      It was brilliant to divide the building into 2 floors and finish it to convince the eye it was meant to be that way. The hallway to the bedrooms was the main aisle of the church but it doesn’t look like that at all.
      With no buyer in 3 years, maybe the pigs have a chance to get back in!

  6. AvatarBethany says: 2656 comments

    Better than the church being torn down. Still so sad though.

  7. AvatarMW says: 725 comments

    Wow, impressive is a bit of an understatement. Like others, I’m not usually too impressed with church conversions. But have to say, this one is exceptional to say the least. Very nice indeed. Compared to the dumps you get around here (SF Bay area) for $1.5M, this is seems like quite a bargain for what you get. Beautiful, I have to say.

  8. AvatarBetsy says: 168 comments

    I have to go lay down after seeing this one. I am over-whelmed.

  9. AvatarLaurie W. says: 1602 comments

    What Robert said. Everything! I’m awed by the thought, dedication & plain toil they put into this project.

  10. AvatarMelissa says: 250 comments

    This had me at the dinner gong. Unbelievable… and there’s an Aga in the kitchen…. off to google how far it is from Cambridge U….

  11. AvatarChristine Klingsten says: 2 comments

    I’m getting a passport ASAP! Kids Mama’s moving to England!!!

  12. AvatarTiffini S. says: 13 comments

    Not only an amazing church conversion, but everything looks like it’s original to the structure. Just wow.

  13. AvatarMDG says: 5 comments

    The house of my dreams! Absolutely stunning. Love it!

  14. SuiteKim55SuiteKim55 says: 73 comments

    All of a sudden, I’ve ‘got religion’!

  15. AvatarDionysia says: 13 comments

    Now where can I find a spare $1.5M?

  16. SueSue says: 1175 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1802 Cape

    I would happily pack up my things, ship the family, pets and horses over to the UK for this place. Wow, what an amazing job he did with it. Everything flows so beautifully. Then you have the rental property and enough land for gardens and animals. Just perfect.

  17. ErnieErnie says: 217 comments

    Wow! Just Wow!

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