PUBLISHED: 08:34 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:34 12 October 2018
The barn, on the at risk register, when the Wisemans bought it. Pic: Susan Wiseman.
A couple lived in a mobile home for nearly two years while completely renovating this barn which was in such a poor condition, it was on the at risk register but last week it won a major award. Property editor Caroline Culot went to visit Susan and Simon Wiseman at Church Barn in East Ruston.
It utterly impresses me how dedicated some people are in the renovating of old buildings. Simon Wiseman is a renowned local builder/developer and he and his wife Susan took on the biggest challenge of their lives when they bought a large thatched barn which was literally falling down and in need of complete renovation. It was registered at risk of falling into a state of complete disrepair – but Mr Wiseman saw the potential and bought it at auction.
As the photographs show, there were still straw bales in the end of the former threshing barn when they started work on it.
Last week it was named the winner at the Graham Allen awards organised by North Norfolk District Council for making the most significant contribution to the built environment within the district.
“Having converted barns professionally this was by far the worst that we had encountered, it was also listed and was by far a major personal challenge,” said Mr Wiseman.
His vision was to enhance one of the most stunning features of the barn; its magnificent internal vaulted, timbered ceiling and so painstakingly worked in his evenings and weekends on the project, renovating the roof internally and getting it re-thatched. However, to really set it off, Mr Wiseman put in large glazed panels across the two large upstairs rooms including a fantastic master bedroom suite, frosted to halfway, but what these mean is that you can look right through from one end of the barn to another.
However, what Mr Wiseman also did was to add an ultra modern extension accessed by a walk-way creating a stunning kitchen and Mrs Wiseman found the perfect units for it; an ex-display marble topped kitchen which has a very unusual slanted edge, so very modern and different.
The barn required three staircases because of its structure, and all are slightly different but ‘floating’ and with open treads.
The barn has a large open plan sitting room leading through to a large floor to ceiling oak wall, an idea taken from Scandinavia. Four bedrooms were created; the space could have been carved up to create more but the Wisemans wanted really large, luxurious bedrooms, all with beautiful en suites. The master, on the first floor in one of the gable ends, has inbuilt wardrobes either side modelled on a boutique hotel look. The other first floor snug room leads out to a roof terrace which the couple plan to deck and from there you can see out towards the local church and beyond, in the distance, Happisburgh lighthouse.
Interestingly, they found attached to one beam a ticket to a concert held in the barn on August 2, 1915 – and in August this year, the Wisemans held their own special celebration at the barn when they got married. “We think our barn shows how a dilapidated commercial building can be transformed with lots of passion, time and care into an amazing yet unique family home,” said Mrs Wiseman.
Watch this space as the barn could be for sale in the future!
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