Featured Home: Fall in love with this converted chapel
PUBLISHED: 13:18 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:19 18 April 2017
Mark and Ruth Crisp have converted a Methodist chapel at Knodishall into a home from home that they love to share. Words and photos: Tony Hall
I might be biased, because I’ve converted a redundant chapel into a home, but I was most impressed by the high quality of the design and workmanship that Ruth and Mark Crisp have put into converting a Primitive Methodist Ebenezer chapel into a stunning holiday home, off the beaten track in Knodishall.
Others clearly share my opinion. One comment in the visitors’ book says: “I love this Chapel so much, I wish I could pack it up and take it home with me.”
The Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1853. Ebenezer Methodists were a succession from the Wesleyan Methodists from around 1807 onwards, particularly successful in evangelising agricultural and industrial communities at open meetings. In 1932 they joined the Wesleyan and United Methodists to form The Methodist Church of Great Britain. As congregations aged, the chapels became redundant, but in this instance they built a new chapel across the road and put their old one up for sale by auction. It needed a lot of work.
Mark is a local boy from Woodbridge, and on leaving school he did an carpentry apprenticeship in the town with builders Ingram Smith.
“You were taught the old fashioned way, by highly skilled men,” recalls Mark. “It was a wonderful training – so sad the old company is no more. I left at age 22 to go into site business. For 13 years prior to 2014 I was involved with a company that employed over 100 men, who were based in Ipswich, but the majority of the work was in London.
“I sold my shares in 2011 and, with management changes, was made redundant in 2014, a blessing in disguise. I was fed up with the long commutes and wanted to start my own company, which I did, called Chapel Properties, based in Woodbridge in Chapel Street.” Ruth, a dental hygienist, was born in Folkestone and lived in Hythe, Kent, till the age of four, when her parents moved to Ipswich, mainly to be closer to grandparents living in East Bergholt.
“When I started Chapel Properties,” says Mark, “some very close friends had recently sold their haulage business and built up a property portfolio, so I looked after them and their building needs. It was a great start, allowing me to do some of my own.” Unfortunately, Mark and Ruth were away on holiday on the Norfolk Broads when the chapel first came up for auction. But the sale fell through and when it was advertised gain, Mark went straight in with an offer that was accepted.
“Planning permission had already been secured. Although there had to be an archaeological dig before we got started in December 2015, the property was ready by April 2016. We were going to sell, but as we both loved it so much, we decided to have it as a holiday home. That has proved very successful.”
The chapel conversion comprises an open plan kitchen/dining area, which is straight ahead as you enter. To the left up a step is the living area, also open plan. On the right hand end of the building are two bedrooms, the master complete with en suite bathroom, and to the front is a twin bedroom. There is also a family bathroom.
Everything is done to a very high standard as the Crisps’ attention to detail is second to none. There are oak floors in all the main areas, and I particularly liked the new grey panelling, which restores character to this special building.
“Everyone who sees the chapel is very enthusiastic,” says Ruth. “Brian, who looks after the new chapel across the way, has been very helpful and sings our praises.
“I really like the high ceilings in the open plan living and dining/kitchen areas, which are my favourite. You can sit around the table, a real family communal space, big enough that you don’t feel anybody is under your feet.”
”I have to say,” chimes in Mark, “that I just love the log burner, sitting there with flames on a Sunday afternoon in winter – fantastic.”
For furnishings, the Crisps have adopted the current trend of up-cycling, using existing pieces, such as the dining table and adjacent display cabinet, but giving them a new lease of life with paint. They’ve added a modern element with trendy chairs from Dwell. Grey is a favourite colour, seen in the units chosen by Ruth for the kitchen.
Both Ruth and Mark, enjoy walking to Thorpeness and Aldeburgh. On route are favourite hostelries, including The Dolphin at Thorpeness, Regatta and David’s Place in Aldeburgh, where Ruth also likes popping into Burnett & Co, for home accessories.
“Another day out would be to old world Walberswick,” says Ruth. “Lunch at The Anchor, then over the bridge to the Harbour Inn, then a lay on the beach.”
An energetic couple, Ruth enjoys salsa dancing, while Mark likes running and has run the Woodbridge 10k for the past 20 years. His company now sponsors it.
“On a less energetic note,” says Mark, “we love sitting outside the chapel, reading a book. I’m very interested in history. It’s a very sunny spot, so it’s nice to be there having a glass of wine and relaxing, then inside to see Under the Hammer on TV.
“With busy working lives, this chapel is a home from home, in a great location in a part of Suffolk we both love. We’re so pleased to have had the opportunity to convert this beautiful building and to share it with others.”
Ebenezer Chapel, Knodishall, is available for holiday lettings. Contact Suffolk Secrets. Tel: 01502 722717
Owners: Mark And Ruth Crisp
Property: converted chapel
Moved in: 2016
Favourite room: dining/kitchen areas
Favourite feature: high ceilings in the open plan living and dining/kitchen areas
Favourite part of the county: heritage coast
Favourite day out: Walberswick – lunch at The Anchor, then over the bridge to the Harbour Inn
Favourite waste of time: sitting outside the chapel, reading a book
Favourite walk: 3.5 miles to Thorpeness and Aldeburgh.
Favourite pub/cafe/picnic: The Dolphin at Thorpeness, Regatta and David’s Place, Aldeburgh,