Norfolk home: Old church meeting house
PUBLISHED: 10:18 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:18 05 May 2020
David Dumpleton and John Ridley were of one accord when they discovered an old meeting house in a Norfolk village
When David Dumpleton and John Ridley met 20 years ago, they soon realised they shared a passion, love and knowledge of an area of the north Norfolk coast, from Holkham to Salthouse and the countryside inland.
Both were working in London. John, originally from Nottingham, has been involved in the media business for years, concentrating on product placement for films. David, from St Albans, did a degree in pharmaceutical science, started in a hospital pharmacy and worked in the industry for 20 years. When David decided to sell his flat, following redundancy, this gave them the opportunity of finally realising their dream, a holiday home in their favourite part of Norfolk.
“My father was stationed at the searchlight base in at Stiffkey,” recalls David. “He was only 17 then, always talked about the area and as a kid many summer holidays were spent in Norfolk, sometimes at Hemsby, but always with trips to the area where he was based.”
“Meanwhile,” adds John, “my best friend Ollie and his parents had a farm house near Hindringham, which I visited frequently. I grew to love the area and the surrounding villages. As things turned out, I introduced Ollie to a girl friend I met, travelling in Vietnam and to cut the story short they got married and now live in Australia.
“When our search began up here, he kindly allowed us to use the farmhouse as a base.”
“As luck would have it,” continues David, “The meeting house was the very first property we looked at and we loved it immediately. It started off life as an 18th century farm building, a stable we think, as there are still rings in the walls – although in one part the bricks date back further to the 1600s and are of domestic quality.
“By 1830, it had become Wesleyan meeting house which it remained until 1965 when it was converted to a cottage. Many villagers remember the meeting house well, including our gardener John Allison and his wife Jenny. We did seriously consider moving up here totally and looked at buying the Post Office in Binham, but eventually decided we were too young to yet abandon our jobs and London, so a holiday home it was to be.”
“What attracted us immediately to the meeting house,” adds John, “was it was detached, a period property of brick and flint construction with history, on a very quiet lane not used much in a delightful village where people still live.
“It had a super old vibe. However the building was small and a warren of little rooms, but we were looking for a project and could visualise straight away how to reconfigure. Fortunately it was not listed.
“What was the sitting room and probably the oldest part of the cottage has a door straight onto the garden, plus a working fireplace, so we made that into a bedroom, with a bathroom adjacent. The kitchen area was half the size and where the living area is now were two tiny bedrooms with ladder stairs to the attic.
“We created a proper staircase, added a top of the range wood burner and formed the new living area. To keep the period we sourced a lot from Norwich Reclaim.
“Upstairs, for the other bedroom, we wanted a boutique hotel feel so added a copper bath at one end and a separate en-suite with loo and basin.”
“It was decided that I would project manage the build, a time not to forget,” says David. “Not because of the builders, Nigel Weston and Jason Taylor who were fantastic, but because it coincided with the Beast from the East. I lived just in the downstairs bedroom as the roof was off the rest.
“It was so bad, I could not get out for provisions but fortunately kind friends in the village are very keen hikers and managed to get to a shop. As that proved, we have been very fortunate having lovely neighbours who have accepted us with open hearts.”
“The space we have created works well,” continues John. “Great entertaining area, cooking at the great big range in the kitchen, people in the dining area and on the sofas.
“Also for guests, they can also have their own space, with totally separate bedrooms and bathrooms, so they are not on top of each other.
“Although we are only two and a half miles from the coast, we love this secluded, quiet spot, which has a real village feel. Also we love the fact that we can walk to the local pub, The Bluebell in Langham, taking the bridle path opposite the cottage, so have no need to drive.”
“We are delighted to have landed on our feet, finding this unusual period building at the first attempt.” concludes David. “A magical moment early on was walking our dog Peccary on Holkham Beach. We love going to Binham to The Little Dairy Shop, where they sell raw milk from a vending machine. You take your own glass bottle. They also do great cheeses.
“Further afield, we love a day out in Cromer. It has a faded grandeur of times past, but is really updating itself for modern tastes and times. A walk on the beach, then on the pier is something we always do.
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“Another walk that’s great is on Wiveton Downs. It’s a raised area, unusual for Norfolk, dating from the ice age, with super views of both sea and countryside. We really are spoilt for choice so there is never a dull moment, we are exactly where we wanted to be.”
The Meeting House, Field Dalling, will be available for holiday bookings after lockdown is lifted with Norfolk Cottages, 6, High Street, Holt, 01263 715779
firstname.lastname@example.org / norfolkcottages.co.uk
Owners: David Dumpleton and John Ridley.
Property: Converted Wesleyan village meeting house.
Location: Field Dalling.
Bought: May 2017
Moved in: It took a year to renovate.
Professions: John is in advertising within the film industry. David is a former pharmaceutical scientist.
Favourite room: Downstairs bedroom with a lovely proper fire and access to the garden.
Favourite item: Our amazing Everhot cooker/range.
Favourite interiors shop: Ruby in the Dust. Fakenham.
Favuorite other shop: The Little Dairy Shop in Binham. Has vending machine selling raw milk, take your own bottle, also great cheeses.
Favourite part of the county: The North Norfolk coast from Salthouse to Holkham.
Favourite day out: Cromer, for its faded grandeur, the pier and beach.
Favourite waste of time: Tea in the garden with our dog Peccary.
Favourite walk: Wiveton Downs with spectacular views of the countryside and coast to Cley.
Favourite pub: The Red Lion at Stiffkey. A good all round pub, dogs practically required.
Favourite cafe or restaurant: The Seafood Van/Cafe in NT car park at Blakeney. It has outside tables.
Hobbies: David: collecting 20th century ceramics. John : yoga, wine tasting and cooking Chinese food.
Most magical moment in the county: Taking our dog Peccary for his first walk off the lead on Holkham Beach.