Buy Of The Week: Richmond

Two years of painstaking work brought the glow of original timber to this light-filled Surrey townhouse - as well as an impressive cache of luxurious and contemporary touches. Nick Lloyd Jones reports
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The Independent Online

The Rosary is a handsome Grade II-listed, four-bedroom house in a quiet residential street in Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey. It was bought by 36-year-old property investor Jamie Cooper two years ago. "I'd been looking for a quirky period property for several years," he says, "and when this one came up, I knew that it was the one for me."

You don't get much quirkier or more period than the Rosary. It is fronted by two generously proportioned, secluded split-level garden terraces and, built in 1695, it is one of the oldest houses in Richmond.

However, although it oozes period charm, the house needed a lot doing to it. "It hadn't been rewired in more than 30 years and many of its other features required a lot of attention," says Jamie.

Jamie set about the task with gusto, sparing neither effort nor expense in transforming the place into his dream bachelor pad.

First, he tackled the various structural shortcomings, recladding the pitched roof with lead while replacing guttering, plumbing and wiring. Next, he turned his attention to the house's many original features. All the fireplaces were renovated and the extensive pine panelling was stripped and restored. The central wooden staircase benefited from a thorough going-over. "It was painstaking work," says Jamie. "We scraped off 28 separate layers of paint before we got to the wood."

Jamie introduced a number of embellishments, including a kitchen-cum-dining-room area on the lower-ground level. This part of the house predates the rest by 200 years, and, with its arches and passageways, served as a smoke house to cure salmon.

Jamie transformed this area, installing embedded uplighting as well as a mirrored wall at the end of the vaulted dining room area to reflect light streaming in from the lower-level patio.

The kitchen, meanwhile, has been fitted out with an Aga, electric oven, gas hobs, granite work surfaces and a vast Belfast porcelain sink.

The rest of this floor was added on to the original smoke-house in the 17th century and comprises a spare bedroom with French doors and a snug TV room next to it - both enjoying access to the lower terrace - as well as a WC to the back plus a wine cellar in the space beneath the stairs.

The front door is on the floor above, approached via a side gate and a timber gangway leading from the upper patio. The main living room opens off to the right with a giant sun-trap bay window, while to the left is a panelled library with a magnificently restored Queen Anne fireplace.

The master bedroom dominates the first floor. Here again, the pine panelling has been fully restored, there's another gorgeous fireplace and Jamie has accentuated the room's palatial proportions by installing a grand four-poster bed.

The other bedroom that used to be across the landing has been converted into a bathroom-cum-dressing-room area with fitted wardrobes, a free-standing roll-top bath, a built-in flat-screen TV, under-floor heating and a power-shower.

Finally, there are two double bedrooms on the second floor enjoying shared access to a shower-room and WC.

Halogen down-lighters have been installed on all of the three upper-levels, apart from in the first-floor bathroom where embedded up-lighters have again been used. Sturdy oak flooring has been laid throughout, with tiling in the bathrooms.

Jamie has reluctantly decided to sell the house to travel the world and pursue other projects. However, he says he'll greatly miss his old home, especially its atmospheric vaulted lower level. Other aspects of the place that he says he'll miss will be al fresco summer entertaining on the front patios (each of which can seat 10), cosy evenings in front of the library fire, as well as the lightness of the bedrooms.

However, what Jamie thinks will primarily attract prospective buyers to the property is its pristine condition. "Whoever buys this place is effectively going to be moving into a brand-new house, but one that also has a fantastic history," he says.

Get the spec

What's for sale? Four-storey, four-bedroom, Grade-II-listed, 17th-century house in Richmond-upon-Thames.

Serious kit: Original pine panelling and fully restored fireplaces; oak flooring in main living areas.

How big? Living area of more than 2,300sq ft.

Extras: Stereo ceiling speakers installed throughout.

Buy it: Through Featherstone Leigh (; 020-8940 1575), £1,675,000.