Nestled in the heart of the charming town of Bradninch, East Devon, this 19th-century converted Salvation Army hall was recently renovated to a tremendously high standard. The house is defined by its sweeping spaces and expansive windows, allowing plenty of natural light to pour in and a sense of openness to prevail. Notably, a large roof terrace has beautiful views of the surrounding village and rolling countryside. Wonderfully located, the house finds itself almost equidistant between three remarkable natural attractions: Exmoor National Park, East Devon Area of Natural Beauty, and Dartmoor National Park. Additionally, the awe-inspiring Jurassic coastline is within easy reach. Tiverton station is just a 15-minute drive away, with direct connections to London in approximately two hours and Bristol in about an hour.
Setting the Scene
Designed by Sir Oswald Archer in 1930, the hall holds historical significance as it was associated with the renowned social reformer William Booth. Booth is widely known for founding the Salvation Army in 1878, an organisation dedicated to aiding the destitute and vulnerable in Victorian East London. The Salvation Army rapidly expanded nationwide and became an international network.
Sir Oswald Archer served as the architect of the Salvation Army from 1906 to approximately 1936, during which he designed numerous Salvation Halls across the United Kingdom. This hall stands as a remarkable example of Archer’s architectural expertise, showing the work of a highly accomplished architect.
Over the course of the 20th century, the hall fell into disuse. However, the current owners recognised the importance of preserving its 19th-century elements, initially crafted by Archer. Embarking on an extensive renovation project, as featured on Great British Home Restoration on Channel 4, they skillfully combined Archer’s excellent design with their own creative vision, resulting in a seamless fusion of styles. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The house is approached along the tranquil back lanes of the pretty town of Bradninch, its striking red brick running bond façade accented by a white stucco block course. The entrance has an elegant arched inset porch has an understated brick arch arranged in a triple-row pattern. A pair of large timber doors, painted in soft ‘Hague Blue’ by Farrow and Ball, creates a lovely welcome and is topped by a broad fanlight with a classical motif.
Stepping inside, the main living area is characterised by its spacious and dramatic proportions. Parquet floorboards run underfoot, beautifully arranged in a herringbone pattern with underfloor heating throughout powered by an air source heat pump. Crittall-style windows with original fluted glass are painted in dark hues. A cosy sitting area is centred around a bio-ethanol fireplace, warming the room on cooler evenings. A fully integrated Loxone smart system with speakers is a thoroughly modern touch to this period building.
To the left of the open-plan room is the bespoke kitchen designed in moody dark blue tones, accented with eye-catching brass hardware and topped with fresh white quartz surfaces. Cleverly concealed within an original vestibule to the front of the plan, a utility room adds practicality to the elegant space.
On the first floor is the primary bedroom. With soaring ceilings and large windows, the room is flooded with natural light, while sizeable built-in cabinetry provides lots of storage. Adjoining this room is a generous en suite with innovative use of reclaimed pieces—a pair of Jack-and-Jill basins have been cleverly crafted from a marble-topped, antique mahogany washstand. Polychromatic black and white tiles line the floor, leading to a spacious rainfall shower.
Two additional bedrooms are on the ground floor. One bedroom has an en suite with a large slipper bath, while the other has a shower wet room in Venetian plaster, making both rooms perfect for guests.
Open stairs at the front of the plan ascend to the unique geodesic dome crowning the roof of the building. This lovely architectural feature creates an unusual indoor/outdoor space, capturing the sun’s rays and offering spectacular views. Equipped with an automated door controlled remotely, enclosing the dome becomes a simple operation, ensuring that this space can be enjoyed year-round.
The Great Outdoors
Ascending through the geodesic dome is the large rooftop terrace. The panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from this vantage point are truly breathtaking. Timber decking runs underfoot, while raised beds gracefully line almost the entire outline of the terrace. The sunny aspect makes the space ideal for growing vegetables and herbs with plumbing in place to maintain a lush container garden.
Out and About
Salvation House is in the charming Duchy town of Bradninch, defined by its close-knit community. Local amenities include two local pubs, a well-stocked local store with a post office, a primary school, currently recognised by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’, and a vibrant cricket club. Nearby, Cullompton and Tiverton are larger towns with a broader range of facilities, with a bustling farmer’s market in Cullumpton. Exeter is within easy reach and has an array of cultural delights, such as museums, theatres, and various shops, restaurants, and cafes, including the renowned Exploding Bakery.
The rich heritage of the cloth-making industry is evident throughout the Culm Valley, beautifully preserved at the National Trust’s working Victorian flour mill in Clyston. The region is crisscrossed with inviting footpaths, bridleways, and cycle trails, beckoning residents and visitors alike to explore the picturesque countryside at their leisure.
Venturing further afield, Devon reveals an abundance of extraordinary landscapes, with lots of opportunities for country walks and watersports. Both Exmoor and Dartmoor, stunning national parks, are just an hour’s drive away, characterised by their breathtaking natural beauty. Additionally, the Devon coast’s designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) have some of the country’s finest beaches.
Despite its rural setting, Bradninch has excellent road connections, with the M5 a short drive away, granting rapid access to Exeter and connecting to the regional arteries of the A30 and A38, ensuring easy access to London, Devon, and Cornwall.
Tiverton station is a 20-minute drive away and has direct train services to London Paddington in just two hours and Bristol in under 50 minutes. The ‘Culm Valley Connect’ also provides a regular bus service, connecting Bradninch with Exeter, Cullompton, and Tiverton. Cullompton train station with direct link to Bristol due to open 2025.
Council Tax Band: E
Salvation House, formerly known as Gospel Hall and Salvation Army Hall, holds a significant place in the historical centre of Bradninch. The name “Bradninch” has a long history, first appearing as ‘Bradenese’ in the Domesday Book of 1086. Its meaning is believed to be related to a “broad oak” or “broad ash,” although the name has been spelt in 79 different ways throughout recorded history.
Bradninch served as the caput of the feudal barony of Bradninch, a grant from William the Conqueror. However, it was later sold after the execution of King Charles I in 1649 and eventually returned to the Dukedom of Cornwall following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Today, the Duchy of Cornwall still retains ownership of much of the land within the parish.
The town’s origins, like many others in Devon, were linked to the woollen trade. As time progressed, papermaking replaced this industry, thriving for two centuries at nearby Hele Paper Mills and Kensham Mill.
In parallel to the infamous Great Fire of London in 1666, Bradninch also experienced a major fire that caused significant destruction. However, several noteworthy buildings survived this event, such as the Guildhall, Bradninch Manor House, and the 15th-century parish church, St. Disen’s. Much of the town centre now falls within the Bradninch Conservation Area, preserving its historical significance and architectural heritage.
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