A 17th-century barn mainly destroyed by a fire in the 1960’s, has been given a new lease of life as holiday accommodation by a pair of property owners who now use it to raise valuable funds for charity.
Richard and Susan Wakeford, who own The Barn Reborn (property reference: NRP) in Winchcombe in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, open up the barn and their adjoining gardens for a week every May as part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS Yellow Book), and then the town’s Festival of Arts.
Richard comments: “This will be the eighth year of our annual charity event at the Barn Reborn. Last year, we raised over £3,000 for the Children’s Society and various cancer and other NGS charities. We hope to continue this work for years to come, making good use of the stunning property and beautiful gardens.”
The property, listed through the UK’s leading provider of holiday cottages and luxury homes, cottages.com has opened its doors to hundreds of customers over the last 5 years through the partnership.
Sarah Betts, Business Development Manager, cottages.com, for the Cotswolds, said: “Richard and Susan have rescued this old barn and transformed it into a stunning, high quality 21st century holiday retreat. Their charity work is commendable, and they should be very proud of their achievements. It’s fantastic to see that they are going above and beyond not only in the way they welcome guests to their holiday home, but also by engaging the local community in support of their charitable activity.”
Richard said “We’re very proud of our renovation efforts. It’s doubly rewarding to share the results of our investment with the local community; and it’s even better to do it in aid of a good cause. We enjoy welcoming people to the gardens and seeing the surprise on their faces as they step through the doors of the Barn Reborn.”
Richard and Susan bought their home, the Grade II listed Charingworh Court, in the mid 1990s. Only on Richard’s retirement from full time work in 2012, did the couple decide to renovate the old barn in the grounds to create a holiday let. Probably dating from the 17th Century, the barn was a shell, with few parts of the original brick and timber frame surviving the fire. When Richard discovered a 1940s photograph showing the original full extent, the couple were inspired to appoint a local architect and began work to create new timber-framed sections and restore the building to its original scale.
Richard adds: “We used a local company to restore the old framework and build the new one. One memorable day saw the arrival of the new timber frame in sections; these had to be craned in bit by bit – and guided into the pre-made joints, a veritable three-dimension jigsaw puzzle. We were amazed at the skill and teamwork of the craftsmen; it was fascinating to watch.”
Richard and Susan have created exceptionally spacious accommodation for just two guests. When deciding on the interiors, they were keen to maintain the barn’s heritage, so the new timber frame remains exposed. In the kitchen, a two-storey striking original wall of brick and oak beams separate the accommodation from the part the owners refer to as their ‘Potting Shed’. The property boasts luxurious interiors, including an Italian glass chandelier in the hallway hanging from the apex of the ceiling – so high that a scaffolding tower was required to fit it.
Richard concludes: “I like to think that we have managed to create one of Britain’s most spacious two-person holiday retreats. Our aim is to provide our guests – many of them returners – with the service they demand; working collaboratively with cottages.com has allowed us to do this. Not only does the brand have great visibility nationally, with properly independent reviews, but they give us the freedom to work to our own routine and deliver the customer a tailored experience that doesn’t feel overly commercialised.”
Anyone considering a holiday let, or reviewing how to make a better return on investment out of a current holiday let, is invited to get in touch withcottages.com. For more information and advice, simply visit www.cottages.com/let-your-property or call 0345 268 1174.