A 14th century house, which starred in the spectacular film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, is up for sale for just under £1 million. It is famous for being the birthplace of the star wizard himself along with his headmaster Dumbledore, but it intrigued me for other reasons than its fame.
This is a stunning, historical building that oozes character of the period it was built, whilst it has been subtly modernised to make it more comfortable to live in, as well as housing a 5 star self-catering wing for paying guests. With history comes some telling infrastructure including the remains of a garde-drobe, a rare medieval wall painting and one of the most pictured front doors in the UK, understandably.
Image sourced from Tim Caynes Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/
When this house, located in Suffolk and also known as the de Vere house, was bought by Mr and Mrs Ranzetta over 20 years ago it needed some TLC, and since then it has been lovingly restored and renovated. During the years of improving their home the couple uncovered carvings, paintings and ornate decorations highlighting the houses years of differentiating trends.
The de Vere house owners have done a grand job at retaining the original character even with new furniture and décor. The guest bedrooms pay homage to two of the previous residents, Lady Elizabeth Howard and John de Vere, the latter featuring a carved four poster bed, a bath all of which are surrounded by the original beams of the house. With a very shabby chic feel, maintaining its hand crafted impression, this home is inviting, friendly and most of all desirable which will have helped achieve its price tag.
As a Grade I listed building, renovating is never going to be an easy task, although the Ranzetta’s have done a superb job, it is not always as easy as it sounds to put your own stamp on a listed building. Trying to maintain the theme and vibe of the home is difficult to achieve, but not impossible. When moving into a home that is old and needs a makeover, try and research other listed buildings, get some expert advice from conservation officers in your area and check whether you need planning permission or not (some buildings need permission to redecorate).
One major issue that will hit listed buildings hard over the winter, is the ever increasing cost of heating. You may be living in a beautiful, medieval house, but it will feel like it during the winter as you wrap up in blankets, with extra jumpers on and a woodfire burning. It is a fact that homes built in the 14th century are not going to be well insulated or draught free, so keeping warm over winter is always going to be a challenge. Single glazed windows will be one area of a home that will lose heat, therefore increasing your fuel bills. Unlike a conventional home where you could install A-rated windows to improve your homes energy efficiency, a listed building requires careful planning and consideration for the building, so secondary glazing is probably the best option in this scenario (check with conservation officer first).
Timber and sash windows are often specified in listed buildings and finding a supplier is not necessarily easy. You need someone who is reliable, experienced and able to meet your specific requirements. You may not think Anglian can supply windows that are eligible to be installed in a listed building, but we actually can; with our own factory in Norwich, each window ordered is made to measure, including our range of timber windows and sash windows, which will retain your homes original character.
Draughts are a nightmare, whistling around your ankles in the evenings as your stroll around with hot cocoa trying to keep warm. To try battle these horrible chills, you can seal your doors and windows with foam rubber stripping, stopping the draughts creeping through the crevasses. A set of long thick curtains are also great defense to prevent draughts sneak their way into your house, also aiding with keeping the heat in.
Living in a listed building, like de Vere house is a luxury, a fantasy that many of us will only ever dream of living in, but energy efficiency is something we can all improve in our homes; be it heating our homes or lighting them. Sadly we can’t wave our magic wands to produce cheap heat or electricity, but we can help you lower your heating bills through home improvements. Until then you will have to gather some logs, place them in the fireplace and practice your ‘Incendio’ spell.