(Photograph Courtesy of Le Mas Enterprises Inc.)
So, it's happening.
Since I last posted, we have reverted to Plan B (or was it Plan E?), which is to rent both No.7 and The Horseblock. All a bit scary but no one seems to want to buy either (the nerve!) and I guess that the national economic growth figures published last week will probably finish the house market off completely for the foreseeable future. We are assured that the rental market is vibrant but The Horseblock has been on the market since last Monday with no interest yet. "July and August are notoriously quiet", they tell us, "Everyone is on holiday". All a bit like the excuses for the lack of growth - it's the jubilee, the wet weather, the Olympics, leaves on the line, the wrong kind of snow etc.
We met with the Planning Officer on Friday. She was brilliant, very knowledgeable and very happy with everything that we proposed. Although we're not really planning anything more outlandish than bathrooms and a kitchen. However, she was full of bright ideas about things like conservation glazing and French drains. I really can't wait! We talked about the possibility of ground source heating and she warned us that if we start digging up the garden to any depth, then we will have to call in the archaeologists.
We went back into the house on Saturday morning. We've only visited it in the afternoon before and it was lovely to experience the sun streaming into what will be the dining room and living room at the front of the house. The house faces east so we will get the sun on the front in the morning and on the back G&T terrace in the late afternoon. I think the Church tower will be our new yard arm! We measured up what will be the first bathroom and tried out the boiler. Delighted to say that the heating is very efficient. Particularly on a hot July day. However, the potential cost of heating the place is terrifying (hence the ground source). We took WD40 with us - I know, does life get more exciting? - and managed to get into the sheds at the back. Two huge sheds. One with power and one with lots and lots of shelves. S is thrilled. With his love of gadgets, he has a tool for every occasion (which sounds a bit 'Fifty Shades of Grey' but I'm talking Maplin and Screwfix here) and they will be displayed in all their glory once we move in.
We spent Saturday afternoon in a bathroom store in Oxford trying to find the right kind of bath. Back at the Old Rectory, there is a single toilet (male, I think) on the first floor next door to a room with two cubicles (female, I think). This is where the first bathroom will go. We're hoping to have that ready to install by the time we move in and we're aiming for the first week of October for the move, only because I'm so busy at work during September and this will be my first chance to take leave.
Before I sign off for this post, my thanks to my dear friend, Diana, who is in the Highworth Historical Society and put me in touch with the Chair, Jo, who has sent me some fascinating material about the house and its history. I'll feed bits and pieces in as I blog over the coming months. But, for starters, the listed building entry for the house describes it as follows:
Loosely planned courtyard house of C18 with grander front fixed to north wing. Two and a half storeys. Roughcast. Hipped stone tile roof, half hipped to north. East front 1+3 windows. Small pediment with urn-finials in centre of three window bay, contains attic occulus. Venetian window below. Late glazing in sash windows, flush framed. Projecting central porch, mostly glazed, with slender fluted Doric colonettes to moulded cornice hoods. Two and a half storey extension to west. Three bays with attached brick wing.
The document also indicates that the former coach house (the Church Hall at the top of Vicarage Lane) and the stable cottages that were once next to it were also possibly attached to the Old Rectory. Oh, and the garden wall has a separate listing:
Probably early C19th. Only that section facing Vicarage Lane. About 90 yards.
And will probably cost a fortune to maintain!