Property: Stepping Stones; One Woman's Property Story

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The Independent Online
SINCE 1976, stained-glass maker Jennie Burgen has bought three properties. She now lives in a cottage in Wimbledon.

In the late Sixties, Jennie, her husband and a kitten lived in a small bedsit in Putney. The building backed on to a main railway line: "It was so noisy that you had to stop all conversation when a train went by."

Sharing a "grotty" bathroom with three other tenants while eight months pregnant brought the inevitable realisation: "It was time to move on." When her mother-in-law heard about a three-bedroom, three-reception Victorian house for rent in Wimbledon, Jennie went to see it: "It was a dump, with a leaking roof in the back extension, dangerous Thirties wiring and rotting window frames."

Most people would have balked but not Jennie: "We were thrilled, to us it was a palace." Every six months the landlord "repaired" the leaking roof using "bitumen and bits of old carpet", but by 1976, "two babies, much work and a second relationship later", Jennie and her partner bought the house as sitting tenants for pounds 10,000.

Jennie loved the house and its space but hankered after a country cottage although "the time was never right". By 1986, the relationship had ended and Jennie sold for pounds 69,000. She bought a smaller place in nearby Motspur Park for pounds 50,000. This house was also Victorian and over time Jennie carried out much work including restoring the kitchen and stained-glass door which prompted her to take an evening class in stained-glass making. This led to a career - Jennie restored most of this street's doors. But when her children left home the house seemed too large.

Four months ago, she saw a "lovely two-bedroom 1860s cottage" for sale in Merton Park. Jennie sold for pounds 155,000 and bought for pounds 165,000 although local agents Finch & Co. estimate "tip-top" cottages in this conservation area now go for about pounds 190,000.

She may not have made it to the country but, just 10 minutes from Wimbledon station, lives next to a field and a churchyard.

Ginetta Vedrickas

Those moves in brief...

1976 - bought three-bedroom Wimbledon house as sitting tenant for pounds 10,000, sold for pounds 69,000.

1986 - bought smaller house in Motspur Park for pounds 50,000 sold for pounds 155,000.

1998 - bought cottage for pounds 165,000, worth pounds 190,000.

If you would like your moves to be featured write to: Nic Cicutti, Stepping Stones, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 will be awarded for the best story.