Slice of the Med
Laura Cartledge finds Mediterranean living in the Hampshire countryside.
A former Victorian chapel and Mediterranean living will seem miles apart for many, but near Wickham the two have come together beautifully.
“I am an architect and challenges can help you,” says owner Ian Roger. “It informs what you are going to do with it and can be easier than facing a blank canvas.”
Inspired by their time living in Cyprus and sailing the Greek Islands, Ian and wife Carole worked to give Crockerhill Chapel – a property with a colourful past – a bright future.
However it was not just a case of restyling the décor.
“I used to cycle to work past it every day, it was a wreck then – there was no roof on it – but it was in a nice position,” Ian recalls.
“I thought what’s up? Why is no one restoring it? There must be some bad reason.
“Sometime later my wife went past it and spoke to a lady who said ‘I know the people who own it, they live in London and try to come down at weekends but I think they’ve grown tired of it’,” he adds.
The woman offered to give Carole the owner’s address, the Rogers then wrote to them and a sale was agreed.
“It was a bit of luck,” smiles Ian. “We had been looking for somewhere as we were renting at the time.”
That was back in 1985 and the three decades since have seen the pair, and the chapel, go on quite a journey.
“Looking back on it I think we must have been mad,” Ian confesses. “We ended up pulling a lot of it down. A lot of it is new but it doesn’t look it.
“It is a listed building so we had to keep it very much the same,” he explains, “but we have extended it in the same idiom – sometimes people can’t tell which part is which.”
The work was recognised in 1994 when Crockerhill Chapel won the Daily Telegraph Individual Homes Award for the Best Refurbishment Project – an accolade it clearly deserves.
With a strong focus on open plan living throughout, this three bedroom home boasts a great sense of space.
The sitting room has feature full height ceilings and a mezzanine floor which forms a study area, with access to the master bedroom and its own roof terrace.
This area is one of Ian’s favourites because ‘it’s nice and quiet’ and ‘you can see countryside all around’.
Also on the first floor is a family bathroom and the second bedroom, while the third can be found back downstairs.
The ground floor also offers a kitchen/dining area and cloakroom.
Steps are utilised in the property to give each area a different feel.
This is best showcased in the main living room which is elevated to enjoy views out of the historic lancet windows, which previously would have been above head height.
The changing levels not only have style advantages but a practicality too as effectively lowering the ceilings has improved both energy use and acoustics.
Technology meets tradition here with an underfloor system and an integrated vacuum cleaning system which sees the chapel offer 21st century comforts alongside ample character.
Speaking of which the latter includes internal door designs with intricate woodwork and panelling inspired by the Scottish architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson.
“It’s an exciting place to live in,” admits Carole, while Ian confesses they are still ‘discovering things’ about this unique home.
“Things like the way the sunlight moves and how it changes through the year,” he reveals. “The roof lights mean even in the winter the low light comes through.”
While the pair are understandably reluctant to leave they say the appeal of the area means they ‘won’t be moving very far’.
The chapel is located near the village of Wickham, just to the north of Fareham.
Historic buildings, beautiful shops and an array of restaurants can be found at the first while the latter provides a wider range of amenities, including a cinema and railway station.
Winchester and Alresford are also only a short distance away.
Combining all these factors makes it easy to see that Crockerhill has been the project of a lifetime.
“I’m coming up to 76 and Carole is 73,” smiles Ian, “it took us about 23 years so it is not something we are able to do again.”
Crockerhill Chapel is on the market with Charters Estate Agents, The Old Post Office, 17 West Street, Alresford, at the guide price of £895,000. To find out more call 01962 734633 or visit www.chartersestateagents.co.uk
February 26, 2015 Interiors and Property