The conversion of empty historic churches into residential units is not a new trend – but ensuring the homes inside are full of character and space and include period features is not always achieved.
Churches can be challenging buildings to convert.
Carving up the large open spaces into enough units to make the development financially viable, while designing the homes to feel spacious and characterful, can be tricky.
It’s a balancing act between old and new and space and character – and not every developer is totally successful with the outcome.
That could not be said for this stunning home hiding within the converted Alcedonia Church in Penarth.
This renovation project and development on Albert Road won The Penarth Society Civic Award in 2013.
At the time Alan Thorne of the Penarth Civic Society who made the award, said: “The fact that the church has been preserved – and so tastefully – is great news for Penarth.”
From the outside, the building looks impressive and from the inside it is immediately clear why this church conversion is an award-winner.
A tour around the two-storey home called Magnus, including its five-storey tower, is a journey through contemporary interior design happily married with features from its historic past.
And the icing on this yummy property cake is the incredible 360 degree panoramic views from the top of the bell tower.
From the top you can see across the rooftops of Penarth and its surrounding countryside and out to sea, across the Bristol Channel and to England in the distance.
The conversion was carried out by X-Stream Developments, which is owned by former All Blacks and Cardiff Blues rugby player Xavier Rush.
The penthouse of the church, now for sale for £950,000 is a property very dear to Xavier Rush, as it has been his home for many years. However, a growing family forces him to relocate to a larger abode in the popular Vale of Glamorgan seaside town.
He told Walesonline in 2019: “As much as it’s a wrench to leave the Magnus penthouse at Alcedonia, I needed the space and a garden.
“This was a very personal development for me. It was somewhere that was both a peaceful retreat – Alcedonia from the Greek for peace, calm and tranquillity – and Magnus from the Latin for powerhouse.”
“I think the new residents are going to love the place as much as I have, and will be very happy to call it home.
“There is so much potential still to explore, especially with the rooms in the bell tower which could be home office spaces, games rooms or a home gym.
“The possibilities are endless as are the views from the rooms, which are simply amazing. I will miss the place.”
Enter this truly unique home via a communal entrance through the church’s grand, wooden arch front door that also has a phone entry system.
Up a few steps then to this amazing abode.
The ground floor tour begins with two of the three bedrooms, one with an ensuite and the other with a ‘Jack and Jill’ shower room shared with the hallway beyond. This lowest level of the home also has a handy utility room.
Up to the first floor and into a breath-taking open-plan living space.
This incredible area has been designed around the restored original church features ensuring that they take centre stage within the space.
The exposed oak trusses and beams, vaulted ceiling, decorative details around the top crowns of the church’s internal columns are all eye-catching features to excite.
The stunning stained glass windows are the perfect characterful additions to the space, with their vibrant colours informing the choice of accent shades brought to the decor by statement pieces of furniture.
The interior design within the home is awash with white on walls and ceilings which is the perfect choice as a blank canvas on which the original features can be most appreciated.
The grey feature walls at the end of each segment of reception space provide a softer frame for the stained glass.
The change in wall colour encourages the eye to wander to the far wall, so making the space within these zoned spaces seem even bigger.
Shapes have such an important visual part to play in this home – and that’s all thanks to the structure of the original building.
The harmony of the arched ceiling, arched windows, arched roof structure and a curved ceiling over the kitchen area are all so absorbing it can be easy to forget to look at what you can discover at ground level.
The high-end, bespoke kitchen with Corian worktops is a sleek choice.
With integrated handles and gloss white units, it flows seamless into the white walls and ceiling.
The genius of adding a wall of dark grey units at one end further enhances the contemporary style of the area. And it also provides a visual relationship between this side of the open-plan space to the other side, echoing the grey outer walls in the alcoves.
This sizeable room has three distinct alcoves offering three semi-private spaces to be allocated to whatever function suits the lifestyle of the new owner.
The first layer of tower is accessed in the far corner of the reception space.
On the way to the tower you come across a hobby room currently set up as a music room but this space could easily be the third bedroom if required, according to the estate agent selling this slice of the church.
This versatile room then leads into a surprise – a sauna.
And this bonus feature even has a built-in sound system so you can sing as you sweat.
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The base of the tower is a lobby area and currently this layer of loveliness is being used as a mini movie room.
The tower also has noticeable clever design that is prevalent throughout this property.
Use of internal glass panels in the floors of each storey means light and views of the exposed church features cascade down the centre of the bell tower to be shared and enjoyed by all the levels.
Up a flight of stairs to arguably the most characterful home office in Penarth.
Flanked on all sides by incredible stone and brick arched windows, and because of that clever glass panel in the floor and the glass side to the stairs, these stunning features can be admired from below.
Good luck getting much work done in this most charming of office spaces with the expensive views of the town and the sea peeping in through each section of window.
Up to the next floor which is a versatile space that is simply called the tower room by the estate agent, so could be allocated any function the new owner wants.
The final indoor storey of the tower is currently a gym, which makes perfect sense as all that climbing up stairs means by the time you reach this floor you’ve already done your gym session warm up.
Then up onto the open-air storey of the tower, where your breath will be taken away and not because of the sea breezes.
From this incredible and private vantage point, the 360 degree views of the whole of the horizon is yours to enjoy.
From the town to the hills, from Cardiff to the coast, the views from this top-of-the-town tower garden are totally worth the climb.
The house with a bell tower is for sale for £950,000 with estate agent Allen & Harris, call their Penarth branch on 029 2070 5528 to find out more.