This exemplary, award-winning chapel conversion in the sought-after Ryburn Valley has over 4,300 sq ft of internal accommodation and approximately one acre of land.
The conversion of the Grade II listed 19th century chapel was carried out in 2000 by Evans Vettori, an architectural practice whose director, Robert Evans, has just been awarded the regional 2014 RIBA Architect of the Year. The conversion kept much of the original drama of the interior space whilst making it suitable for 21st century living (including improving energy efficiency). The property has undergone a more recent refurbishment by the renowned interior designer Roberta Fulford.
Accommodation includes a spectacular open plan living area that occupies much of the ground floor. The 1,500 sq ft space features an impressive helical staircase, custom made in a shipyard in Naples, and five large windows. The kitchen / dining room and a utility room are also on this floor. The first floor is arranged around an impressive atrium that features a structural glass roof and exposed original trusses.
The master bedroom suite is a large, light space with wonderful views of the Ryburn Valley. It includes an en suite bathroom, dressing area and lounge area. On the mezzanine floor at the top of the house, which is accessed via the master bedroom, is a further room that is utilised as a cinema and has extensive built-in storage and a large loft area. On the first floor there are a further four bedrooms (one with en suite bathroom) and a family bathroom. The former organ room is one the most appealing spaces in the house which features a library / study room that opens out onto the first floor atrium.
The chapel is set within landscaped gardens that feature a fire pit with seating area. Further outdoor seating/ dining areas give far-reaching views of the valley. There is also an acre of grazing land beside the garden. Off-street parking space is available for up to six cars.
Mill Bank, where the Chapel House is located, is regularly referred to as one of the best small villages in Yorkshire. It has a wealth of historic buildings, beautiful natural surroundings, a school and a number of popular local pubs within walking distance. Indeed the Ryburn Valley – which includes Rippendon, Rishworth and Sowerby Bridge – is considered something of a foodie destination thanks to its outstanding gastro pubs and local produce.
The village is just over 20 miles from both Manchester and Leeds, both of which are reachable by train from Sowerby Bridge (1.5 miles from Mill Bank). Journey times to Leeds are 35 minutes and 40 minutes to Manchester (and planned upgrades will make this even quicker). Mill Bank is also just five miles from Hebden Bridge, a popular market town known for its vibrant creative culture.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
Excerpt from the Yorkshire Post article by Sharon Dale (2008) outlining the original conversion of the chapel:
Chapels are known for their austere no-frills interiors and Emma Hawley hopes the Victorians who built her home would appreciate that she’s given Methodist minimalism a modern twist.
“I think they would’ve approved. We’ve tried to keep it simple and unfussy, which quite befits a Methodist chapel,” she says.
Since it ceased being a place of worship in 1968 it has had a number of uses, but the latest makeover at the chapel at Mill Bank, near Sowerby Bridge, has given it a sense of calm.
Emma and Gregor bought the chapel in 1999 and got permission to redesign the interior after coming up with an exciting design with Evans Vettori Architects. They stripped out the partition walls and the first floor and started from scratch with the shell of the building.
The first job was to fix the roof and to insulate the walls. “We have put an enormous amount of insulation in and that’s made it incredibly warm,” says Emma. They also replaced the single-glazed windows with double-glazed versions that cost £1,600 each and installed shutters instead of curtains in the bedrooms…
Emma and Gregor decided to create an enormous atrium, stripping off some of the roof tiles replacing them with glass. The light floods down into the ground floor living space and through an area of glass floor into the living kitchen. They also installed portholes in the bedroom doors to allow natural light in. “Light is so important. It makes this place what it is,” says Emma. “We also found trusses when we stripped the ceiling off and they were spectacular, so we spent every weekend for months sanding them down and varnishing them.”
Downstairs they left most of the ground floor open-plan with various zones for an office, lounge and a library area. The contemporary living kitchen next door has sliding glass doors to enhance the feeling of space. The centrepiece of the ground floor is the sculptural staircase, which cost £25,000, and is helical rather than spiral, which means the central pole is twisted.
It takes the place of the original stairs either side of the front door that led to up the chapel’s original horseshoe gallery. These have been capped off. “It took months to get the staircase because the central pole had to be made by a shipbuilders in Naples, as there was no-one in this country who could do it,” says Emma. “But it was worth it. They are the focal point.”
Emma and Gregor’s master bedroom suite, or what they call “the apartment”, is one of their favourite spaces. It is a large living/working space with a glass Juliette balcony with views over the valley and a beautiful en-suite bathroom by Alternative Plans of London.
The sleeping area is a mezzanine, suspended from a large truss and accessed by a set of cantilevered “floating” stairs. “It was a big office and when I saw it originally and I knew it would a great place for us. It’s where we escape at night to relax,” says Emma.
Now it’s a fantastic home and their sons, family and friends love it. “It’s the perfect house for children. They invite their friends round and say, ‘Bring your bike’ and when their friends ask where they can ride it, the boys say, ‘In the house’. It’s also brilliant for hide and seek and making dens, though we can never find anyone when they hide,” says Emma.