This Grade II-listed church sits proudly on the bucolic hillside on the outskirts of Ford in Wiltshire. Constructed in 1896, the building has recently undergone a thoughtful and sensitive conversion, creating spectacular spaces for living and entertaining as well as three lovely bedrooms. Extending to 2,844 sq ft internally, the building retains its ecclesiastical integrity yet provides a number of cleverly designed, intimate spaces. Externally, a private driveway has ample space for parking, and there is an extensive and private rear garden.
Setting the Scene
Something of a local landmark, the Church of St John was designed by C.E. Ponting in 1896 and built entirely out of distinctive, honey-coloured local stone, with Bath stone dressings. It has a barrel-vaulted ceiling, an uncommon feature for the time, as standard practice favoured rib-vaulted ceilings, and a slope of the nave from West to East, following the natural geography of the site. Originally designed to seat 170 worshippers, the space was impeccably converted into a home in 2001. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The church is set back from the road, a stone’s throw from the Bybrook river and nestled among neighbouring fields. A kissing gate and a commanding porch lead to a set of Gothic-arched front doors and an entrance hallway.
In the hallway, a contemporary stairway is bathed in light from a vast window with perpendicular tracery and stone mullions. An original Victorian Charles Portway ‘Tortoise’ stove sits in the hall and is still used for heating the house. A long corridor runs the length of the church and leads to the bedrooms and entertaining spaces.
In the old chancel is a spectacular kitchen. A double-height space, this room retains its original stained glass windows and rood screen (alleged to have been supplied by William Morris’ Company); both the windows and the screen have decorative tracery, carved head stops and mouldings. The screen has been cleverly glazed, dividing the room while keeping the volume of the spaces intact. A spiral staircase leads to what was the organ loft, now a study space and reading nook.
The first floor is accessed by a curved staircase. From here, the intricacy of the impressive barrel-vaulted ceilings can be seen up close; the individual hand-carved bosses each have their own design. The vast yet comfortable space is perfect for entertaining, with a wood-burning stove and dual-aspect views. Through the main living space, there is a gym/study, which would also make a good bedroom. From here, it is possible to access the bell tower with its still-working church bell.
On the ground floor, the original vestry has been converted into a charming snug-come-bedroom with a wood-burning stove. Three additional bedrooms overlook the private back garden and feel quiet and secluded. An en suite adjoins the largest of the three bedrooms, while a further family bathroom and smaller shower room lead off the main hall.
The Great Outdoors
The extensive garden sits at the back of the plot and is surrounded by bucolic pasture. Predominantly lawn, the current owners have created intimate patio spaces for entertaining or alfresco dining; a thicket surrounds the plot, leading to its sense of privacy and seclusion, and wildflowers grow in the adjoining beds.
A private side driveway is accessed via arched oak posts and a gate; this leads to a large gravel driveway and a side dormer entrance, which houses a spacious utility room.
Beyond the garden hedge, there is a secondary plot of land that is home to an existing building in need of repair, which has lapsed planning consent for an ancillary building.
Out and About
Ford is a small village that sits among four other villages and hamlets in North Wraxall Parish, Wiltshire. The local community is very active, and the house sits in the catchment area for a good selection of both private and state, primary and secondary schools.
Chippenham train station is around 12 minutes’ drive away, with journeys to London Paddington taking 70 minutes on the fast and direct mainline, calling at only three other stations.
Old Church Road is perfectly positioned for easy access to the surrounding Wiltshire and Somerset countryside. Dyrham Park and the National Arboretum at Westonbirt is on the doorstep, and the Peto Gardens at Iford Manor, The Tithe Barn and the Saxon Church at Bradford-on-Avon are also easily reached. Bath is a 20-minute journey by car and the popular Cotswold towns and villages of Tetbury and Malmesbury are a 30-minute drive away. There are a good selection of supermarkets, farm shops, cafés and restaurants all within reaching distance, and Malmesbury Waitrose is some 20 minutes by car.
Council Tax Band: F
Records of dwellings in Ford date back to 1279, yet for centuries, local villagers walked the two miles every Sunday to North Wraxall Church for their sermons. It was not until 1895 that Lord Metheun gave the village a third of an acre to build an Anglican Parish Church, later named the Church of St John, in the vicinity of a stone-built farm cottage.
Overseen by the reverend F. Harrison, St John’s was designed by C.E Ponting with a distinctive soaring shingled spirelet with tile-hung gables.
Ponting began his architectural career in 1864 in the office of Samuel Overton. He worked on a number of commercial and residential designs, the most notable being Theobalds House in Hertfordshire for Admiral Hedworth Meux. He took on the role of Surveyor of Ecclesiastical Dilapidations for the Archdeaconry of Wiltshire, the Diocese of Bristol, and after that, the Archdeaconry of Dorset and advised on the design and blueprint of several chuch buildings.
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