I can’t believe this day has come around so quickly…it’s almost a year since we decided that we would sell this special house – we realised that as much as we loved everything about it, the location is sadly just too remote for this stage of our lives, both for work and with a little one. We felt that we needed to be living somewhere more urban and decided to start researching a move to Bath.
Fast forward a year and we are now about to close the door to this magical home for the last time. Before we go I wanted to share with you our full journey, from first finding it, to buying it, renovating it and moving in. It has been such a special time in our lives and we feel utterly privileged that the house found us. And it did really find us…
I’ll take you back with me to summer 2015 – Patrick and I were living in Streatham Hill and had been living and renovating in London for a few years. We had no intention of changing that, but we were finding it very hard to find a new renovation project in London – the new stamp duty changes meant it was very challenging to find anything with a margin. Whilst I was in Dorset one weekend staying at my parents’ house, I was having a browse on Rightmove. I have always had an alert set up for Dorset, as we always planned to move back one day and so I wanted to keep an eye on the market. That particular weekend it popped up again in my search and something made me open the link. It didn’t look much from the photos (many of them you can see below), but it certainly looked like it had potential and was crying out for some TLC.
I’m not really sure why, but we decided to view – really on a bit of a whim and not seriously thinking we would buy in Dorset at this stage – we loved life in London and had no plans to move out yet. When we got to the house, something shifted. We both felt that it had something special to say and the setting was stunningly beautiful. When the agent told us that she thought a developer would buy it and divide it into four flats (putting an extra level in the main kitchen room and splitting it into two down the middle), we knew we had to buy it and update it to keep it as the elegant family home it had been since it’s conversion from a Carriage House in the 1950s.
A few days later we made the slightly rash decision to make an offer for it and to put our house in London up for sale. Fast forward to February 2016 and the house was ours. By this point I was pregnant, coming up to 22 weeks and devastatingly at the end of February I lost our baby in very traumatic circumstances. The reason I mention this is because it was the house that really saved me afterwards; having the project and design to focus on was the perfect thing to keep my mind occupied, and the wonderful calming surroundings helped me to find peace with all that had happened.
By the end of that year we moved in and since then have had such a blissful few years – I fell pregnant again in September 2017 and I felt the house and its wonderful energy kept me safe and calm through those months and I could switch off and hide away from the world until I felt ready to emerge – a pregnancy after loss is a strange time – a mixture of fear, hope and eventually excitement as my due date finally arrived.
Almost a year ago (1st May 2018) we brought are beautiful little girl home here and the weather, literally from that day pretty much every day until the end of the summer, was perfect. We had the most magical time getting to know Lily and enjoying the amazing garden and views. It was during that time that we decided we would probably have to leave – both for work and for life with a little one, we felt we wanted to be back in a town (or at least a large village) for a while.
Looking back now I wonder if the house found us, so we could breath love and life back into it, bring it back to its best and give it life for many decades to come. And in return it did something wonderful for us – it protected us after one of the worst times in our lives, kept us safe through a challenging few years, provided us an income (through photoshoots and other bits and bobs) whilst work couldn’t be our main priority and then celebrated Lily’s arrival with us throughout the most magical summer of our lives? All that may sound strange, but I really do feel a spiritual connection with it, which is why leaving is so hard.
But it is the right time to move on and I have to be brave – I am welling up as I write this alone in the kitchen. All our belongings are now packed and gone, but the bulk of the furnishings remain. When we do close the door for the final time, it will feel very bizzare – leaving all our furniture here feels more like we are just going away, rather than leaving for good. But maybe we are…this is the first time I have ever felt this strongly when leaving a place, but I really believe we are leaving a part of us with this house – our energy, our love and so many memories.
Thank you for having us Castle Hill and thank you for all the wonderful memories.
ps – I hope you enjoy all the photos below charting our journey…before, during and post renovation work x