Property: Our romance with the manse goes on

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The Independent Online
The appeal of the old rectory is as strong, if not stronger, than ever. Savills had more than 700 inquiries and 170 viewings for the Old Rectory at Sherfield English, in Hampshire. One of the features that proved most attractive was its state of disrepair. It seems buyers either want the perfect house or a dilapidated one that they can transform in their own personal style.

This particular rectory required, among other things, a new roof and treatment for serious dry rot. But it was a very attractive house in a good setting and sold within seven weeks for considerably more than the asking price of pounds 230,000. Robin Gould of Savills in Salisbury said: 'I cannot remember having any response quite as outstanding. I just wish I had a few more like it to sell.'

One office that does have an old rectory in need of attention is John D Wood in Oxford. Though not quite as large as the Hampshire rectory, Largo House, as it is called, has six bedrooms, two bathrooms, two reception rooms, an attic playroom, loose box and three-quarters of an acre of garden. The limestone house needs modernising and redecorating, rather than rebuilding. It is selling for pounds 280,000 (0865 311522).

Of the five former rectories currently on Knight Frank & Rutley's books, one of the prettiest is the Old Rectory at Limington, in Somerset, which it is selling with Michael de Pelet. This stone house has six bedrooms, two bathrooms, three reception rooms, a self-contained annexe and three-quarters of an acre of garden. It is for sale for pounds 320,000 (0935 812236).

In Scotland they call them manses rather than rectories, but the idea is the same. Finlayson Hughes in Inverness is selling Duich House, a former Church of Scotland manse with a steading (barn), cedar summer house and two acres of grounds. The house looks over Loch Duich and the spectacular range of the Five Sisters of Kintail, about 20 miles east of the Kyle of Loch Alsh.

However, potential owners must fulfil two unusual, but not unbearable, conditions: they must agree not to hold religious meetings on the premises, nor must they brew or sell alcohol. If you can cope with that, then the six-bedroom, three-storey house is available for offers in excess of pounds 180,000 (0463 224343).

(Photographs omitted)

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