New chapel conversion
An architect based in Penzance, in the far west of Cornwall, Lesley Price has been working on the Chapel Development for 2 years, effectively creating a small hamlet of 5 different houses at the entrance to Marazion. Marazion is famous for the castle which rises from the sea in Mounts Bay – St Michael’s Mount, and is a tourist ‘hot spot’. The site is just over the road from the beach, and the pub! It faces south so lots of sunshine.
Ebenezer Chapel and its outbuildings had been used variously as a boat builder’s yard, as offices and garages, and latterly as a Builder’s Yard and Workshops, having been decommissioned around 1956 we believe. There are still local people who remember worshipping and playing the organ in the Chapel, which has a plaque referring to it as a Wesleyan Free Church of 1862.
An ex Conservation Officer usually working on historic structures, Lesley was offered the site as a development project for herself, and this makes a happy change for her from working for other people to a deadline and to their requirements.
The whole development has been shortlisted for the Cornwall Sustainable Buildings Award as it incorporates as many eco features as possible, including high levels of insulation, air source heat pumps for heating and hot water, and whole house heat recovery ventilation systems. All the houses are extremely economical to run. All the houses have outside space or gardens, and a parking space each in the communal driveway, which is accessed via an electric gate. Everyone has a sea view, or at least a sea glimpse! The traditional iron railings all along the front have been hand forged and set in granite kerbs, as per the original ones, which were removed to assist the war effort.
Three cottages have now been completed and sold on (all to people overlooking the site – no advertising necessary!) and the final two houses are now being complete. One has been sold to a couple who discovered it while on holiday.
The final house at the back of the chapel has 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms downstairs, with a vast open living space on the first floor, to make the most of the arched windows. There is a large open loft space from which views can be made into the living area below. This is an ideal studio area. There is also an additional 2 room annexe, which was the vestry (or robing room) and Sunday School of the old Chapel. This house has the largest outside space too, and an open fireplace. Lesley has been using it as her Architect’s office.
She has decided to offer this house – Bright Chapel – for sale, as she has her eyes on a Grade II* listed stately home to work on next. This would mean 22 new dwellings, so a change of pace will be required!
The finish of the Chapel houses is very crisp and well crafted. As Lesley says, “It makes such a difference if you’re not having to work to a deadline. We can go over and over items, working on them until we are satisfied, however long it takes and however much it costs. We really want to get it right.” Of course this can only be achieved with the help of dedicated and skilled craftsmen. It was a small team now, headed by her son, and everyone knows what’s expected and that their efforts are appreciated. Lesley admits she can’t praise them enough.
Lesley’s knowledge of traditional and ‘correct’ materials has been useful throughout, and the use of timber sash windows and lime renders sees it all blend well in to the neighbourhood. Never before has she had to deal with such a comprehensively thorough set of requirements – new drains, new power sources, contaminated land, road closures, even the removal of a lamp post. She admits that it has been a steep learning curve, but one which will leave her well prepared for any future projects!
Lesley Anne Price