There is something indelibly English about ecclesiastical properties. They conjure up images of church spires and stained glass windows pierced by shafts of sunlight. And they always attract a lot of interest, simply because they are so distinctive.
This month, our first church conversion in more than sixty years goes on the market. The six-bedroom property on Stratford Road, Kensington, is attached to, and was once part of, the church of St Philips, which dates from 1857. The property almost has the feel of a rectory or vicarage, but it is in the heart of the capital – a winning combination.
St Philips, like many London churches, has a fascinating history (http://specr.org), and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008. It was formerly part of the central Kensington parish and, since January, has been the newly designated parish church of St Philips, Earls Court Road. And it is still a working church today.
Its clock has become a landmark in an area that has become increasingly fashionable, treasured for its peaceful streets and independent shops. There is everything from a delicatessen and dry cleaners to a design studio nearby. Stratford Village, consisting of Stratford Road and Abingdon Road, is tucked away between South Kensington and Kensington High Street. The area is full of pastille coloured Victorian terraces and white stucco town houses, with wisteria about to burst into life at any second.
But if the location is hard to beat, it is the property itself, with its many ecclesiastical features, which will have potential buyers purring with pleasure. It is well-designed and has every modern convenience you would expect, including a large open-plan kitchen and a Grand Designs-style conservatory linking the two parts of the house. Yet it is the graceful architecture of the old church that gives the property its serenity.
“This is one of our most unusual properties to come on the market in our 66-year history,” says Harry Berry, Sales Manager of Henry & James. “It would make the perfect family home or a cool city retreat. There is so much potential for an adventurous owner who is looking for something different.”
One of the bedrooms has floor-to-ceiling gothic windows so spectacular that you can almost hear the choirs of angels singing. Even better is the private courtyard garden, almost cloistral in character, which is accessed by enormous wooden doors set in a stone arch.
“The highlights for me are the red, orange and yellow hues from the stained glass windows in the adjoining church that give the Stratford Road property a warm glow in the evenings,” adds Harry Berry. “It is simply breath-taking. The house has not been on the market for six years and we are expecting a lot of interest from around the world.”
There is even a crypt in the basement which the present owner had planned to convert into a night club with a dance floor for his children. He never got around to it, so what happens to the space now is in the lap of gods. It could end up as anything from a wine cellar to a basement gym or a cinema room with spiral staircase in the corner.
Either way, it will only enrich the history of a luxury home which straddles the sacred and the secular in the heart of London.
- Stratford Road, London W8 is on the market for £7.5 million. For more details, call 020 7235 8861, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.henryandjames.co.uk/property?id=583C18470E660