Unusual Auction Property

How To Make Use Of A Redundant Chapel?

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!




  1. Kevin Reeves

    hmm interesting, a few suggestions:

    – Undertakers, seems quite fitting, profitable business I believe (sounds soul less I know but a fact none the less)
    – A health and safety training center, how brilliantly ironic
    – Depending on distance to larger settlements a Horror based book, film, music store with online shop

    Hope this helps!!!

    1. Sam

      Thanks Kevin – we like the idea of a small wedding chapel, but it seems without parking we’re going to struggle. The horror based outlet would be great – but it is such a small traditional environment we don’t think the locals would be on side. Undertakers seems to have not passed research stage and H&S is a bit too ironic 🙂

      1. Kevin Reeves


        Your welcome, had to add some humour in there, I can’t help myself!

        Two other ideas that suit that type of building:

        – Small data centre for secure off site backup and data storage. Could set it up with investors in mind and tailor the service for there needs. A big market at the moment, banks are building these like there is no tomorrow.
        – Small item secure storage, given the usually narrow windows you could fit steel security boxes that won’t go through the openings, fit big ol steel security gate to entrance and fit with cameras etc.

        1. Sam

          That is a really interesting idea. It’s not such a big chapel, but maybe we could do more document/ hard drive storage – or even a server centre…

          1. Kevin Reeves

            Hi Sam,

            Yes that’s what I thought, for SME’s it would be ideal for off site data storage. Not cheap to set up though as the hardware would be pretty expensive but also scalable, so could start with one rack of storage and see how it goes…..
            My fiancee’s father works in this industry which is what lead me to think of it, he would probably give you advice on what you need / costs involved if it’s of interest.

            Hope this helps.

  2. Sam

    Thanks to the great response I received on Twitter – such varied and original ideas. We have been doing research over the weekend to see what may be able to work as a business in the chapel, but the lack of parking and the small, traditional village location is a huge obstacle to most ideas working….auction is tomorrow so any last minute ideas gratefully received!

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