Today I went to see one of those unusual auction lots I love – a chapel!
Located in a sought after village in Hertfordshire, my immediate dreams were about the wonderful home I could make of this now redundant former place of worship.
Surrounded by the rolling green hills of Hertfordshire and just a few miles to the mainline train station into London, this is commuter heaven – and what better after a hard day working in the City to come home to this unique property in such a fab location.
The Chapel, built some 150 years ago is in good structural condition and is a handsome building
The slight fly in the ointment is the graveyard which surrounds it…and which you own on a 999 year lease and have to maintain.
And while these gravestones may look fairly old – there are some recent ones which shows this has been a fairly active graveyard until recently:
Inside the building benefits from great proportions as you would expect – high vaulted ceilings – and gorgeous original features which could be incorporated into a new design scheme.
Just imagine these beautiful windows with stained glass in them – these are the sort of architectural details you just don’t find nowadays:
However, while the chapel benefits from such modern day conveniences as electricity, it does not appear to have mains water, sewerage or gas – as evidenced by just this chemical toilet.
The building benefits from class D1 usage which applies to Non-residential Institutions and can be used for:
- The provision of any medical or health services
- A creche, day nursery or day centre
- The provision of education
- The display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire)
- As a museum
- As a public library or public reading room
- As a public hall or exhibition hall
- For, or in connection with public worship or religious instruction
Given the active graveyard situation, I quickly knocked all ideas of residential conversion on the head. While chapels can make fabulous homes – I think the market is rather niche for those who are also looking to live in a graveyard!
And so my thoughts turned to the commercial uses, and those which the property already benefits from. Initially, I thought what a great doctor’s surgery it would make…until I realised how ironic that would be. You go to the doctors to be made to feel better – if you go to a doctor’s at a chapel with a graveyard, that is a timely reminder of your own mortality!
I then thought about a vets – and then realised that is the same as a doctors – although this time it’s an animal doctors – and again I realised that perhaps people would not want to be reminded that death is around the corner.
Then I thought about an antiques shop – until I learnt that most places are closing down…which also applied to all my other ideas surrounding libraries, community centres and the like
And so I started asking friends for ideas – they suggested everything from a recording studio (not a bad idea, but not sure on demand in this location), to a nursery (not much play space for the children and it feels wrong to think of the kids playing amongst the graves), to a restaurant (do people really want to eat with views over what faces them in the future) to a bar (village is too traditional for this type of establishment).
And so I have drawn a blank. The auction is next week and I have yet to come up with a great business idea for this chapel. I would love to hear any ideas you may have for this – no matter how crazy! As a pointer, I better tell you now – it has no parking, it is a small village with some 5,000 people…but it is well connected, in a salubrious part of the country and definitely has potential!
Anybody who has any ideas with what can be done with the chapel will be rewarded if I manage to secure it!