Chris and Linda Mugford have sensitively renovated an ailing Regency rectory, restoring period features to create a family home.

Ask anyone to name their favourite architectural style and odds-on Georgian – and, more specifically, Regency – will come out pretty near the top of the list. But Chris and Linda Mugford’s listed Regency rectory on Cornwall’s popular north coast was anything but cherished when they bought it. What followed – a year-long restoration project to give the derelict building renewed purpose as a six-bed family home – was a labour of love which has yielded spectacular and highly original results.

Built in the first half of the 19th century, the rectory had been used as a care home before being abandoned four years ago, after which damage to its fabric escalated. “There was tree-shaped mould on every wall,” recalls Linda. Windows were blocked, a mishmash of pipes covered the exterior and wet rot was beginning to take hold. “But we still thought, ‘We can rescue this,’ when we saw it,” says Chris.

The Project

  • Name: Chris and Linda Mugford
  • Build cost: £350,000 (£1,250/m²)
  • Build time: 11 months
  • Location: Cornwall

“We knew the damp was caused by concrete render repairs,” explains Chris. “The walls could not breathe.” So, one of the first tasks was to strip off all the concrete render and repoint the original stonework. A breathable lime render was then applied, followed by a natural mineral-based paint.

Other substantial tasks included rerouting external soil stacks within the interiors, reopening original windows which had been blocked up, as well as reconfiguring the layout to reflect the original floorplan.

To the couple’s great surprise, many original features had survived, sometimes buried beneath modern finishes. Georgian skirtings, architraves, door reveals and floorboards were all there to be discovered and conserved. But perhaps the best discovery of all was the ornate plaster cornicing which was hiding behind a hundred years of paint.

Determined to use high-quality craftsmanship, Chris and Linda tasked Hayles and Howe (who worked on Windsor Castle after the fire) to restore the remaining plasterwork and renew some lengths using moulds taken from other sections.

Where there was nothing original to work with, the couple had a freer hand with the design, and used the opportunity to do something rather different. Each of the new bathrooms, for example, has its own distinct wow factor — from walls covered in a fifth of a tonne of solid marble to an en suite that dispenses with tiles altogether in favour of an innovative spray-on resin that provides seamless coverage. “It’s all about creating the unexpected,” says Chris.

Add in a basement converted into a cinema room and a secret, concealed door in the library, and you have the ultimate family home, without the historic inconveniences. And finally, among the real show-stoppers is the curved kitchen which the couple designed themselves and had made up.

“We loved the house and could see it would be rewarding and satisfying to restore,” says Linda. “It’s just the kind of property we love.”

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