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See how a Norfolk couple are converting a former Methodist chapel into a luxury family home

PUBLISHED: 13:11 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:11 20 September 2018

The conversion of the old Methodist chapel in Catfield. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

The conversion of the old Methodist chapel in Catfield. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

See the building work going on at a former Methodist chapel in east Norfolk which is being converted into a luxury home, shortly going up for sale. Property editor Caroline Culot went to take a look.

Norfolk couple Tracie and Neil Howie had dabbled in property before but never taken on such a major project which will see a large former Methodist chapel dating to 1838 they bought last year converted into a plush new, four bedroom home with stunning contemporary interiors.

They started the project at the beginning of this year and are just a few weeks away from finishing it and putting it up for sale.

The former Methodist chapel, Catfield; how it looks now. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukThe former Methodist chapel, Catfield; how it looks now. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

The former Methodist chapel, Catfield; how it looked while building work was going on. Pic; SUBMITTED.The former Methodist chapel, Catfield; how it looked while building work was going on. Pic; SUBMITTED.

The creation of the floor to ceiling exposed wall in the kitchen. Pic; SUBMITTED.The creation of the floor to ceiling exposed wall in the kitchen. Pic; SUBMITTED.

How the exposed brick wall in the kitchen looks now. Pic; www.edp24.co.ukHow the exposed brick wall in the kitchen looks now. Pic; www.edp24.co.uk

The bespoke staircase by the exposed wall in the kitchen. Pic; www.edp24.co.ukThe bespoke staircase by the exposed wall in the kitchen. Pic; www.edp24.co.uk

The corian kitchen island. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukThe corian kitchen island. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

Brick arches at Catfield Chapel renovation. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukBrick arches at Catfield Chapel renovation. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

How the kitchen is shaping up in the former chapel. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukHow the kitchen is shaping up in the former chapel. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

The original stone plaques on the exterior wall of the former chapel. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukThe original stone plaques on the exterior wall of the former chapel. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

The original trusses bearing the date and name at former Methodist chapel. Pic; www.edp24.co.ukThe original trusses bearing the date and name at former Methodist chapel. Pic; www.edp24.co.uk

Neil Howie in the new kitchen at the former Methodist chapel. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukNeil Howie in the new kitchen at the former Methodist chapel. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

The chapel, on the corner of Church Road and Back Lane in Catfield, is a very well known building locally. It was built in 1838 for £150 as a Primitive Methodist church or chapel which was a succession from the Wesleyan Methodist movement and was in use for 179 years. Stone plaques either side of one of the doors still exist naming those involved over the years in its creation.

Originally, the building was largely single storey with a distinctive front porch and inside would have been a vaulted ceiling with a large gallery. Pews were down either side with a central aisle and by 1894 there was a thriving Sunday School with some 55 members; as a result, in 1913 the school room extension was added. During World War Two the school room was used as a Red Cross centre.

Electricity and heating was installed in 1954 and the luxury of a kitchen and toilet facilities in 1978, with the chapel extended further with a single storey side addition in 1985.

The last service was held there on November 29, 2015 and last year Aldreds estate agents put the building up for sale by auction.

Here, the Howies came in - purchasing the chapel for £142,000. For Mr Howie, retired, it sounds like a cliche but it really was a dream come true as he had always hoped to convert a historic building.

He said: “It was literally my dream. I saw the chapel and its charm and I just wanted to fill it with light, I’m really pleased with how it is turning out, the kitchen is just a wonderful, light, airy space that I hope people will enjoy being in.”

Mrs Howie has worked hard to bring in contemporary additions, saying: “We sourced the kitchen units from Italy and just have tried to do something different.”

Not being listed, meant the couple had a wider scope on what to do with it, but they had to work closely with North Norfolk District Council planners to obtain permission to enlarge the structure and carry out some changes.

For example, Mr Howie decided against advice to demolish the single storey side extension, instead incorporating it into the whole structure and replacing the roof and continuing it across, to create a new roof line. The couple have retained as many of the original features as possible, including a feature exposed wall on an upper floor but also created new beautiful features too - using some of the old bricks, they have created a stunning floor to ceiling curved, exposed brick wall in the kitchen. They have also created brick archways inside as well as arched windows to match the ecclesiastical ones already there (interestingly these were originally square but believed to have been replaced after the chapel was rebuilt following a fire in 1859.)

The couple are also renovating the hallmark front porch and some of the window sills. Inside, they have opted for a really contemporary, ultra designer look in terms of the fixtures and fittings to set off the original features. The kitchen boasts the most stunning central corian work surface/island in a marbled effect which was created originally for a major London exhibition and looks great with the sleek black kitchen units and designer pendant lights.

Then there is the main staircase, another impressive feature. Mr Howie himself designed this as a ‘floating’ staircase in oak and glass; the treads come from trees the couple lost at home in the bad storms 30 years ago - he kept the wood and had them made into polished planks. Uplighters will make this a superb feature at night-time.

There will be four bedrooms, three en suite and two entrances. It’s also been designed on an ‘upside down’ plan so that the living room is on the first floor looking out across the fabulous views of open fields. Outside, the building has been completely painted white which has given it a clean, fresh new look. Situated on a good sized plot, there is landscaping to create a patio and small garden area as well as room for parking.

The chapel conversion is going to be marketed by Abbotts - for more information, give them a call on 01603 905233.

Watch this space for an update on how the chapel looks when it is completely finished.

Are you doing a renovation or conversion project? We would love to hear from you! Email caroline.culot@archant.co.uk

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