A couple loved the church they got married in so much they decided to buy it, renovate it and turn it into a stunning HOLIDAY HOME.
Anne Monroe, 65, and her husband Bill, 71, married at St Luke’s Church in the Kielder National Park in 1987 and have since had each of their four sons christened in front of the grand stained-glass window.
Anne was even christened at the church herself and has had a lifetime affinity with the building.
So when an opportunity to buy the building came up in 1998, the couple jumped at the chance to buy it and spent over £200,000 completely converting the 1818 historic property.
Anne said: “I’ve grown up with the church and Bill and I wanted to revive its beautiful period charm for people to enjoy again.
“I have always lived in the house next door and I was even christened in the church myself.
“I married Bill here and we have had all of our children christened here, when I saw there was the opportunity to purchase it I couldn’t miss it.”
The couple’s sons Nicholas, 28, Edward, 26 and twins William and James, 23, were all christened at the church as babies and Anne remembers events spanning her life associated with the building.
Anne met husband Bill at London University while they were both studying Art History and their passion for architecture and old buildings spurred them on to take on the huge project.
Anne added: “Bill and I have renovated properties in the past and felt this was the right time to convert and renovate the building.
“We have renovated our own Georgian rectory next door and we are so lucky to be in the national park.
“We felt that by buying the church when it became redundant that we could save it and I’m so happy with all of the work that has been done to turn it into what the church has become.”
The historic church was decommissioned as numbers of the congregation fell due to its remote location and nearby churches being easier to reach.
It went on sale by the Church of England and Anne acquired the church in 1998 with her husband – but due to restrictions of use based on the building as part of the sale agreement, she could only use it for personal use and house storage at the time.
She decided to go to the church commissioners at the Church of England to challenge this decision and explain their desire to change the use of the church to become a holiday home.
The commissioners agreed and work started to restore the building in 2010 by Historic Property Restoration Ltd and local architect Kevin Doonan, being completed in 2013 for the church’s opening as the unique holiday home.
The couple decided to rename the building to Greystead Old Church and it has proved hugely popular with tourists visiting the national park which is famed for it’s dark skies and stargazing opportunities.
Stunning photographs show the four bedrooms, a sitting room formed from the original altar area and a newly-created mezzanine level after the restoration.
The church has an array of original features showcasing its historic past, including a fully-restored Victorian stained-glass window and Gothic archway, as well as exposed Georgian stonework, flagstone flooring and panelling.
The couple politely declined to say how much the property was purchased for but decommissioned church buildings don’t usually command a high purchase price.
Visitors can stay at the distinctive property for between £700 and £1800 depending on season and Anne can’t believe it’s popularity since the grand restoration.
Anne added: “It was agreed when we bought it that we would love to renovate it into a holiday home.
“Since it opened we are so busy and tend to be fully booked for up to 50 weeks of the year.
“The restoration of the church was funded by a generous grant from Northumberland Uplands Leader and the stained and other Victorian glass windows restoration was funded by the Northumberland National Park’s Sustainable Development Fund.”
“It is such a beautiful church and because of my history there we wanted to feel like we had continued its legacy.
“We have been very pleased with the result, and I was expecting it to be hugely popular, but the amount of bookings we’ve had has surpassed my expectations.”
The couple now have plans to renovate the church even further, with a spiral staircase up to the clock tower containing a panoramic room for stargazing – a popular reason for visits – in the pipeline in the near future.