Stay The Night: The Old Chapel, Stoke Fleming, Devon

A derelict chapel has been transformed into a luxurious holiday let, and now it offers every possible comfort, says Sarah Barrell

It takes quite an event to bring our family to church. A wedding or funeral, perhaps. Or, in this case, the conversion of a 19th-century chapel just outside Dartmouth into a high-end holiday rental. It began and continued its life as a United Reformed Church 140 years ago, subsequently serving as a shop, storeroom and boathouse. The chapel was bought in 2009 by the Imlah family, who restored the near-derelict structure to its original elegant form, adding a level of comfort not always associated with places of worship.

The kitchen opens on to the dining area and raised lounge whose window seats reveal sea views. The chapel's original window plan and double-height ceilings have been retained throughout. Add a wood-burning stove to this meditative setting, and I wondered if we'd make it outside, but the bucolic South Hams scenery seduces in bleak weather or fine.

Stoke Fleming, a two-road village, is lined with whitewashed cottages. It is crowned with the hilltop St Peter's parish church, flanked by a lane whose ancient hedgerows frame epic views along the coast to remote Start Point Lighthouse, some 10 miles away.

The deep cove of Blackpool Sands, with fine yellow shingle backed by grassy cliffs, has to be one of south Devon's loveliest beaches. Set just a 10-minute amble through the village, down a wooded coastal path, the beach more than makes up for the chapel's lack of garden.

The rooms

The house is spread over four floors, connected by stylishly up-lit wooden staircases. Solid oak flooring and beams contrast tastefully with cream, white and tan soft furnishings.

The three bedrooms sleep a total of seven people. While some people might find the beams on the attic-room floor cumbersome to clamber over, we thought it created a real "nest in the eaves" charm.

The daybed in the lower-ground den-room offers potential sleeping space for an eighth person. On our visit, it didn't get any use, since the oil-burning boiler located in the room left quite a stench. In summer, this may be less of an issue.

The three bedrooms are en-suite with Spanish marble walls and floor tiles, a Fired Earth shower cubicle here, a handmade Flaminia wash basin there, and a covetable Victoria and Albert "Quarrycast" free-standing bath.

The food and drink

The village shop and pub are two-minutes' walk away, the former offering basic supplies, the latter decent grub, local ales and ciders, and a notably cheery welcome. A hamper of local goodies from Brixham Deli was provided during our stay.

Further afield, south Devon is an epicentre for British seafood and field-to-fork produce, so you are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping or eating out. The cafe on Blackpool Sands beach does a tasty south Devon crab and lobster bisque. Dartmouth's delis, fish shops and farmers' market (Fridays 1-6pm) are a 10-minute drive. Riverford's celebrated Field Kitchen Restaurant ( is 45 minutes away; Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's new Plymouth Canteen and Deli ( is an hour.

The extras

This is a chapel that looks after its congregation: cots, stair gates and bottle-warmers for young families, plus PlayStation, DVD/book library and an iPod dock that feeds a house-wide sound-system. For outdoor fun, grab the supplied crabbing lines and head for the rock pools on Blackpool Sands. Ten minutes south by car lies the dune-backed three-mile stretch of Slapton Sands; the South West Coast Path can be picked up five-minutes' walk from the house. The Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway ( is the big draw for children (from 1 April), along with Kents Cavern (, Torquay's prehistoric labyrinth of caves, where headline-making excavations are currently uncovering the earliest known remains of Homo sapiens in Europe.

The access

None of the bedrooms is wheelchair accessible. Children are welcome; dogs are not.

The bill

Blue Chip Holidays (0844 704 6501; offers weekly rental from £649 rising to £1,699 in July and August. Three nights start at £462, depending on availability.

The address

The Old Chapel, Chapel Lane, Stoke Fleming, Devon TQ6 0PA.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam