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Alex Mitchell
Written by Alex Mitchell 5th October 2017

Heavenly Conversions

Dwindling congregations have meant a steady stream of churches and chapels have closed their doors for worship, and many of the buildings only survive if they find an alternative use. Lucky owners of chapel conversions know that a former chapel makes for a home with atmosphere, character and charm that’s hard to beat. So, if you’re thinking of converting, bear in mind the following points.

First, make sure all the paperwork is done and dusted. Any change of use and alteration to a chapel requires planning consent, and if the chapel is listed, it will also require listed building consent. Once you get the green light, and before starting any building work, take photos of the chapel in its original state. As well as being a useful steer for the work in progress, it has archive value too. Then visit a couple of good conversions for inspiration and hire an architect with specific conversion experience.

The challenge is to create a large, open-plan home, keeping the integrity of the building intact. Fully embrace the open-plan feeling and sub-divide any space as sympathetically as possible. If you can, keep the entrance hall as it was designed and retain characteristic features like galleries, staircases and stained glass alongside the new walls and floors. If original decorative elements really don’t fit, hide them behind new structures rather than tearing them out and regretting it later. Double glazing may not be an option, so aim to keep the original windows but increase the building’s insulation. Underfloor heating will help keep the open-plan space feeling snug. With a gentle touch, your secular building will become a comfortable home without losing any of its heavenly charm.

Is a converted chapel the answer to your property prayers? The Chapel in Shillington is offered for sale at £950,000 through Michael Graham’s Hitchin office, with an open day for viewings on Saturday 14th October 3-4pm. By appointment only, telephone 01462 441 700. And for more divine inspiration, head to our website at