About the House

About the House

Just 40 minutes from Manchester Airport (MAN) and situated in the beautiful hamlet of Swythamley in the Peak District National Park, the property is a stunning, converted Grade II listed STONE CHAPEL dated 1904 – complete with castellated BELL TOWER and the original weather vane – offering generous, versatile, accommodation with three double bedrooms, three bathrooms and scope to create Bedroom 4 very simply. 

Swythamley is located in glorious rolling countryside between Wincle, the river Dane and Rushton Spencer. It enjoys a rural, ‘country retreat’ feel while being close to major routes to the M6, Manchester, Manchester Airport and the whole motorway network.

The house has good-sized gardens–never measured them but big enough!–laid mainly to lawn and surrounded by mature shrubs and trees, and a double garage presently used as a workshop. The external access to the garage has long since been fenced off to provide a private outdoor sitting area for the basement studio bedroom, so to use the space as a garage again, the Winner needs to remove the fence! 

A galleried level is easily converted into single bedroom 4 with no adverse impact on the property’s aesthetic or current planning; it’s already a part of bedroom 2, but as it’s only accessible via a ladder, has never been used! Conversion would be simple, by using a space-saver staircase, and dividing the two room portions. It is so elevated to one side of Bedroom 2, that you wouldn’t notice it had “gone” if you were in Bedroom 3. This new space would be a super little hideaway for a “secret” child’s bedroom or an office. With a spacesaver ladder, nobody would see there was even a room there.

Swythamley Chapel isn’t too big or too expensive to run to be a traditional family home. It has a cosy, homely feel while being spacious, modern and stylish.

A Little History

The Manchester Evening News recently published a wonderfully detailed and well-researched piece on the Chapel, and what would be the point in reiterating that when they did such a marvellous job? 

Click here to read the Manchester Evening News article.

Admittedly, I am a bit of a history buff and so, the Winner can also expect to receive a folder of some very strange and esoteric printouts extracted from very old newspapers, many of which concern life in “the olden days” in Swythamley and neighbouring Wincle. 

Have you heard the one about the two men (1800s) who dressed as ladies to gain entry to a Wincle house and rob the owners…. or the one about the Wincle woman (1700s) who boiled the baby on the stove…umm…. It is odd to think this stunning, quiet backwater used to be so full of naughty people!

More About the House

This former chapel is Grade II listed dating back to 1904 and was originally commissioned by Lady Brocklehurst for her husband. Lord and Lady Brocklehurst were the Lord & Lady of the manor house that lies far across the fields to the rear of Swythamley Chapel.

Swythamley Chapel always stood well apart from the country estate properties and it is truly private, in its own mature gardens filled largely with rhododendrons. On one side of the Chapel is a fence separating the Chapel gardens from Swythamley Hall, and in this field are sheep, while in the field opposite are dairy cows. The nearest house is neither visible from the Chapel nor audible; you feel other life is a world away, yet the market town of Leek is 7 minutes away by car,  Macclesfield is 20 minutes’ drive away, and you can be at Manchester Airport (MAN) inside 40 minutes on a good day–or an hour on a bad one! 

Swythamley is a rarity indeed; it goes almost crime-free and trouble-free according to the national crime statistics and we certainly don’t hear any hooligans in our lanes! Once, I had a trough stolen by a man who travelled all across from Huddersfield for it, after I’d advertised it on ebay. The theft was such a rarity in Swythamley and Wincle that Staffordshire Police jokingly called me “The One Woman Crimewave of Swythamley”.

The Chapel has been skilfully converted and the accommodation carefully interweaves traditional, original features with new elements. For example, an imposing, modern, architectural metal staircase sits easily alongside the expansive living room with its original stained glass windows, vast polished granite pillars and carved sandstone features. 

The main dining area is ideal for a large table and, with its two dominant granite pillars, adjoins modern, opaque-glazed tall doors leading into a very up-to-date, split-level breakfast kitchen with clean-looking high-gloss white cupboards. 

The kitchen, again, is old, yet new: it mixes original, stone mullioned windows and carved sandstone features with new Cotswold stone floor tiles. A sweeping, carved ornate stone feature where the original font used to stand, is also prominent, and yet the house feels fresh and up to date. 

The house benefits from a separate utility room off the kitchen.
Also to the ground floor, there is a characterful, cosy study with pot-bellied multi-fuel burner.  This room has two especially striking small stained glass commemorative windows. Opposite this room is a “hidden” cloakroom with toilet and handbasin, and the most magnificent rose window (stained glass) you could ever wish for in your loo! I believe this little room is the old vestry, where the clergy’s robes were kept. It still has the original cupboards and panelling. 

The first floor includes a galleried double bedroom and main bathroom, as well as the magnificent master bedroom with en-suite shower room, and a separate sitting area leading through to the extensive dressing room with clean, white “his and hers” fitted Siematic wardrobes. 

Leading from the first floor landing is a further steel stairway to the second small study or library and to the “eight-bell ringing machine” operating system, and from there, a tiny roof hatch takes you into the fabulous Bell Tower with eight working bells. 

These bells are beautifully decorated and inscribed. They also make one heck of a noise… quite scary when you are up close. They are a rare set, as has been stated by both the original foundry and also the manufacturer of the bell-ringing “machine” that accompanies them. Indeed, the ringing machine may well be the only one of its type in the U.K,. according to a specialist maintenance survey from 2002. This whole set is a bell-lover’s dream!

If you are brave enough to ascend the ladders through the tower, you alight upon the roof of the belltower with the most breathtaking views across Staffordshire and Cheshire. When I bought the house, my surveyor said this area was “ripe for making into a roof garden”. The only problem was, he wasn’t good with heights. His legs went to jelly and the fire service almost had to be called, to get him down again! Ha, what a wuss!

Bedroom 3 is self-contained as a basement studio room and is reached by descending a staircase from the living room. The basement was effected by channelling away the ground below stairs, to create a superb lower level, all without affecting the look of the house externally. Architectural glass block rooflights in the basement shine up through the lawned area at ground level. This basement is a very solid, clever conversion which needs a little TLC but the Promoter will further attend to this as the competition progresses, and hand it over as a refurbished bedroom.

Bedroom 3 has its own access and a sizeable private courtyard garden with a small decked area for a table and chairs, and this garden is not overlooked. Noise from the house does not travel to the basement or vice versa; as such, the basement Studio Room / bedroom 3 makes a delightful granny annexe or a private space for paying guests, teenage children or visitors. It has a reasonable-sized bathroom (en-suite) with cast iron bath and power shower.

Adjacent to Bedroom 3 is the former double garage, which again is sizable — certainly large enough for two cars side by side — and currently used as a workshop space. It has a surgeon’s scrub sink in stainless steel.. quite handy when your arms are covered in gardening dirt and you need to turn on a tap with your elbows. : ) 

This space is no longer accessible as a working garage simply because of the garden area fenced off for privacy, directly outside, but a day’s gardening would revert the garage back to its former use and deliver two external additional spaces for two more large vehicles should the Winner desire. There is parking for at least six more cars by the main house too. 

This brings the house’s parking space total to at least 10 vehicles on private land, with a further private space also delivered by the pedestrian access, just off the lane.

As a workshop, the double-garage space has a “hospital floor”, heat-sealed and non-slip, all to veterinary standards. This is ideal for clean-environment activities, but it is also a very tough floor and this means the workshop or garage can take a lot of tough wear. The floor would withstand driving on if you restore the garage to use by motor vehicles. A collection of prestige cars — if you happen to have any (I didn’t/don’t!) — would look perfect at this property!

To the rear of the Workshop/Garage is a small store room with shelving and a fridge-freezer I will leave. 

Around the whole Chapel is a horseshoe-shaped gravel driveway and parking. To the rear of the house, as a temporary measure, is a small, fenced area for exercising your cat, dog, bunny or who-knows-what, without escape (although a bunny would probably have other ideas). This fence is very light and easily removed but many guests love the fact they can throw open the back door and let a pet out for exercise, without worry of escape.

Services

The Chapel is centrally heated via liquid propane, delivered on a telemetry system by Calor; the Winner would never run out of gas as top-ups are automatic. 

There is mains water and electricity. Water bills are very low. 

The property is on a contract to provide up to 8MB broadband and the area is in negotiations to achieve superfast broadband.

One thing is for certain: EVERY visitor — from delivery drivers, to guests, to ad hoc passers-by — comments on its beauty and grandeur. It is truly unique.