Derelict 180-year-old Methodist church is now quirky £2m home

A derelict 180-year-old Methodist church has been converted into a quirky £2million home featuring a woodburner modelled on Marilyn Monroe’s lips. 

Unusual features in St John’s Hall include a cocktail cabinet made from a 100-year-old reclaimed piano and a ship’s porthole that allows the owner to call down to the kitchen from their bedroom.

The Grade II listed building in Canterbury, Kent, had been boarded up for years when husband and wife design team Deborah and John Hebel bought it in 2015.

It was essentially a blank canvas and they created a their modern home within the listed shell. The property is now on the market with estate agents Strutt & Parker.

St John’s Hall was built as a Methodist church in 1839 and became a school in 1876. When the couple bought it, it had been boarded up for a decade and had rotten windows and school desks left languishing.

St John's Hall pictured above) has been described by the selling agent as 'Canterbury's most exciting new home'

St John's Hall pictured above) has been described by the selling agent as 'Canterbury's most exciting new home'

St John’s Hall pictured above) has been described by the selling agent as ‘Canterbury’s most exciting new home’

One of the most striking features of the property is a woodburner which has been designed to look like Marilyn Monroe's lips

One of the most striking features of the property is a woodburner which has been designed to look like Marilyn Monroe's lips

One of the most striking features of the property is a woodburner which has been designed to look like Marilyn Monroe’s lips

The property is flooded with light from the nine original Georgian arched windows (one pictured above) and offers versatile and spacious accommodation arranged over three floors

The property is flooded with light from the nine original Georgian arched windows (one pictured above) and offers versatile and spacious accommodation arranged over three floors

The property is flooded with light from the nine original Georgian arched windows (one pictured above) and offers versatile and spacious accommodation arranged over three floors

Some of the more modern features of the property include this room with leopard wallpaper and a wooden archway

Some of the more modern features of the property include this room with leopard wallpaper and a wooden archway

Some of the more modern features of the property include this room with leopard wallpaper and a wooden archway

The library has a bespoke barrel-vaulted solid walnut ceiling and a cocktail cabinet (right) which was once a piano

The library has a bespoke barrel-vaulted solid walnut ceiling and a cocktail cabinet (right) which was once a piano

The library has a bespoke barrel-vaulted solid walnut ceiling and a cocktail cabinet (right) which was once a piano

The Hebels, who have been developing property for almost two decades and were nominated for a RIBA prize in 2012, have completely renovated it with new foundations, floors, ceilings and an internal steel structure.

It is effectively a new home and has a ten-year building warranty.

The house is also heated by a ground source heat pump, which makes it cheaper to run and may mean the buyer can qualify for a renewable heat incentive – currently estimated at £27,000 over seven years.

The house has 4,426 sq ft of accommodation over three floors with a kitchen/breakfast room, dining room, living room, library, study and five bedrooms all with en suite bathrooms.

When the couple first bought the property graffiti was plastered on the doors and some of the windows were boarded up.

However, now it couldn’t look more different as it has been restored to its full glory and mixes new contemporary designs with traditional.  

A planning document for the property which shows the scale of the property which includes a reception and a study area

A planning document for the property which shows the scale of the property which includes a reception and a study area

A planning document for the property which shows the scale of the property which includes a reception and a study area

An exterior shot of the property after the completion of the renovation which included a traditional hanging fireplace

An exterior shot of the property after the completion of the renovation which included a traditional hanging fireplace

An exterior shot of the property after the completion of the renovation which included a traditional hanging fireplace

The kitchen is at the heart of the house with a massive central island topped with Brazilian quartz, and an adjacent spacious utility room

The kitchen is at the heart of the house with a massive central island topped with Brazilian quartz, and an adjacent spacious utility room

The kitchen is at the heart of the house with a massive central island topped with Brazilian quartz, and an adjacent spacious utility room

The solid walnut staircase has bespoke solid bronze railings and curved solid walnut handrail. It was commissioned from well-regarded Oxford firm, Zigzag Design Studio

The solid walnut staircase has bespoke solid bronze railings and curved solid walnut handrail. It was commissioned from well-regarded Oxford firm, Zigzag Design Studio

The solid walnut staircase has bespoke solid bronze railings and curved solid walnut handrail. It was commissioned from well-regarded Oxford firm, Zigzag Design Studio

Deborah said: ‘The place was derelict when we bought it, it had been boarded up for ten years. It was just a shell really, but all the basic brick and mortars were in good condition and the location was perfect – just 200m from the cathedral.

‘It was such a grand building, for me it was easy to envisage what to do.

‘I wanted to add personality to the property. I’m not sure where the idea for the lips came from. I’d worked with James Clegg before on a traditional hanging fireplace and I just thought wouldn’t it be fun if it was shaped like a pair of lips.’

She highlighted that couple had the library ceiling made out of walnut at the beginning of the renovation’s but said that the piano had been a last minute addition.

In homage to its heritage as a school the property features fun decor including the sign above which read: 'The Shop is open for fifteen minutes before commencement of class'

In homage to its heritage as a school the property features fun decor including the sign above which read: 'The Shop is open for fifteen minutes before commencement of class'

In homage to its heritage as a school the property features fun decor including the sign above which read: ‘The Shop is open for fifteen minutes before commencement of class’

Before the renovations the the property sat empty and the area next to it had been cordoned off by fencing (pictured above)

Before the renovations the the property sat empty and the area next to it had been cordoned off by fencing (pictured above)

Before the renovations the the property sat empty and the area next to it had been cordoned off by fencing (pictured above)

The outside of the property had been heavily vandalised and graffiti was prominent on and around the door and well as weeds 

The outside of the property had been heavily vandalised and graffiti was prominent on and around the door and well as weeds 

The outside of the property had been heavily vandalised and graffiti was prominent on and around the door and well as weeds 

Inside the property as work begins. Scaffolding can be seen in the centre of the building while chairs are stacked up at the sides 

Inside the property as work begins. Scaffolding can be seen in the centre of the building while chairs are stacked up at the sides 

Inside the property as work begins. Scaffolding can be seen in the centre of the building while chairs are stacked up at the sides 

One of the windows of the property pictured before the renovation. It was boarded up and had a plant growing inside it. The paint work was also chipping away

One of the windows of the property pictured before the renovation. It was boarded up and had a plant growing inside it. The paint work was also chipping away

One of the windows of the property pictured before the renovation. It was boarded up and had a plant growing inside it. The paint work was also chipping away

‘I’d bought the piano for something silly like £25 but it was beyond any form of salvage as a piano, so we thought what could we do with it that’s constructive.

‘We came up with the cocktail bar and used the cast iron workings to create a coffee table.

‘We also used old art boards left from the school to create a worktop for the sink in the downstairs toilet.

‘The porthole was from a boatyard in Exeter and it means the person in that bedroom can look down to the kitchen, you can call down and ask what time’s dinner.’

Now the property looks a far cry from what it was when the couple first purchased it. There are no overgrown plants and no signs of graffiti 

Now the property looks a far cry from what it was when the couple first purchased it. There are no overgrown plants and no signs of graffiti 

Now the property looks a far cry from what it was when the couple first purchased it. There are no overgrown plants and no signs of graffiti 

The walnut colour wood which features throughout the property makes it look cosy and it contrasts well with the modern tiling and woodburner

The walnut colour wood which features throughout the property makes it look cosy and it contrasts well with the modern tiling and woodburner

The walnut colour wood which features throughout the property makes it look cosy and it contrasts well with the modern tiling and woodburner

She said they designed the top floor like a Swiss chalet and used wood that was 150 years old, to match the age of the building.

‘We created four bunk beds which have charging points and peep holes so children can peer through and talk to each other, it’s great fun for sleepovers.

‘It has been a difficult project and taken longer than expected but there’s nothing I would change.

‘I think it would appeal to someone who wants a practical and usable family home and also someone who likes entertaining.

‘It’s like buying a brand new house in a listed shell.’ 

The gate and front door of the property

The gate and front door of the property

The property in Kent

The property in Kent

Come on in! The swanky gate opens onto a small walk way with two steps before entering the property

Mixing the old with the new/ A pile of logs can be seen piled up next to the Marilyn Monroe style woodburner. While a dining table sits across from a quirky cocktail bar made out of a piano

Mixing the old with the new/ A pile of logs can be seen piled up next to the Marilyn Monroe style woodburner. While a dining table sits across from a quirky cocktail bar made out of a piano

Mixing the old with the new/ A pile of logs can be seen piled up next to the Marilyn Monroe style woodburner. While a dining table sits across from a quirky cocktail bar made out of a piano

Sticking to the quirky nature of the property with the staircase which features a cool pattern which runs up the side of it 

Sticking to the quirky nature of the property with the staircase which features a cool pattern which runs up the side of it 

Sticking to the quirky nature of the property with the staircase which features a cool pattern which runs up the side of it 

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