News: Country buyers relish Rectory life

Thu, 13 Sep 07

Old Rectories are synonymous with English rural life and seem to embody the English dream of rural domesticity....

Former rectories make wonderful family homes and fulfill the aspiration of many: to live a quintessentially English existence.

These symbols of English life are inextricably intertwined in English history, significant in not only ecclesiastical history, but also in our social and architectural history.

Mass sell-off

Old rectories and vicarages were built for rectors and vicars who were employed by the Church of England, the church of the rulers, to perform a role that was less about being holy and more about educating rural society and providing order and stability within the community.

These men were gentlemen and well educated. Local landowners often built rectories and did so to command the taxes from the parish, often appointing third sons to serve as rectors and vicars. Since then, Britain has become a more secular society and the Church less powerful.

As a result, many rectories and vicarages were sold to release funds and reduce spending, releasing them into the public domain.

Rectories have no set form, which perhaps contributes to their appeal; they vary in size and architectural style, from the grand to the humble and from Queen Anne, to Georgian to Victorian Gothic.

Ideal homes

However, because they were designed as places to bring up a family and a place to entertain parishioners in the summer, most are spacious and have large gardens. Old rectories are highly coveted coming with the prestige of owning one of the nicest houses in the village. Unsurprisingly, they can command high premiums.

Rupert Sweeting of Head of Knight Frank’s Country Department says: “Former rectories are cited as the ideal home by 80% of Knight Frank’s country buyers.

Part of the attraction of old rectories is the peace and calm that exudes from them. People feel a connection with the history of these houses.

Living in the heart of a community is also extremely appealing while the quintessential English view of a church spire and the sound of the church bells ringing on a Sunday morning is truly wonderful.”

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