“ Address: Clee Stanton / Near Ludlow „
To date, Mrs. SWSt and I have led something of a charmed life when it comes to choosing a holiday cottage. Based only on the very brief information provided on the Internet, we have managed to choose excellent properties for the last two years. This year, we were lucky enough to make it a hat-trick.
The Old Chapel, as its name suggests, is a former church in the tiny hamlet of Clee Stanton near Ludlow. The chapel was originally built elsewhere in Ludlow, dismantled in the 1920s and rebuilt brick by brick in its current location. It continued as a chapel until the 1970s when it passed into private ownership. Today, it is a holiday cottage for rent.
Despite being somewhat tucked away, The Old Chapel is easy to find thanks to some excellent instructions provided by the owners, which makes it virtually impossible to get lost. It's just as well the instructions are so good, because it is so isolated that you would have no chance of finding it on your own.
The property sits about five miles outside Ludlow and is best approached from the A49. That bit is straightforward: it's once you leave the A49 that the fun starts. Turning off onto another reasonably major road doesn't seem too bad until you reach the last 1.5 miles down to the cottage. This is a windy, single track country road with only a handful of passing places, so needs to be driven with care and, if you meet something coming the other way, you need to be prepared to reverse some distance in order to pass safely.
If you are a nervous or inexperienced driver, you might well find this road a really nerve-racking experience and a serious issue in getting to and from the cottage. In fact, it would have been helpful to provide this information on the website at the time of booking. It wasn't a problem for us, since I actually enjoy driving down challenging roads like that, but for nervous drivers it would have been a real trial. At least if the information was provided up front, people would be aware of this and could then choose whether or not they wished to book.
This aside, the Old Chapel is in an excellent location. It sits in a hamlet consisting of about three houses and is surrounded by farmland. As such, it is incredibly peaceful and quiet. Its location means it is perfect for exploring Ludlow and the surrounding area, and even South Wales is less than two hours' drive.
The property itself is lovely. The outside is beautifully preserved and immediately identifiable as a former chapel, which gives it real charm and character.
The door opens up onto a comfortable and charming main lounge. Wood flooring and stained glass windows really capture that chapel feel and a wood burning fire adds to the homely feel. A log pile outside the door provides a plentiful supply of fuel and some is ready cut inside the lounge. This is all included in the price and unlike some properties you do not need to buy additional supplies yourself. The only mild criticism of the lounge is that, due to the alignment of the house, it can be a little dark at times.
The property is tastefully decorated throughout and all the rooms very comfortable, although the bathroom (whilst perfectly serviceable) could perhaps do with some redecoration to freshen it up.
The property has two bedrooms, one with a king size bed and one with 2 single beds. Again, both rooms were nicely furnished and surprisingly large. We only used the main bedroom, but had more than enough places to put our belongings without needing to over-spill into the second bedroom. The king size bed was incredibly comfortable and felt like you were sleeping in a bed roughly the size of Belgium! I'm not renowned for sleeping terribly well, but slept like a log during the week we spent there. This was partly due to the comfortable bed, but also due to the location of the cottage itself. Since it is in the middle of the countryside, there is very little light pollution and so the rooms are almost pitch black once you turn the lights off - ideal for getting a great night's sleep (unless you are afraid of the dark, of course!)
A surprisingly large kitchen finishes off the interior and this was pretty well equipped by the standards of some holiday cottages. As well as a decent supply of crockery and cutlery, the kitchen is equipped with an electric oven, washing machine and fridge (no freezer, though).
The real bonus comes outside in the form of a lovely garden which has not one, not two, but three different patio areas along with associated furniture. The back garden is a real sun trap so is a lovely place to sit drinking and talking. There is even a barbecue in the garden which visitors are welcome to use (although you need to provide your own charcoal and are asked to clean it if you use it).
Extra touches like this abound throughout The Old Chapel and it's clear the owners have tried to create a real welcoming environment. In addition to the barbecue and firewood, a number of books and games are left in the Chapel for visitors to read/play so if you get stuck indoors due to bad weather, there is plenty to keep you occupied. The lounge has a TV/Freeview and DVD player as well as a stereo system as well. These are all extra little things which the owners don't need to provide, but which help to create a more homely feel.
Perhaps the only letdown is that there is not much provided in terms of local amenities and recommendations for places to eat, when compared with previous English Country Cottages properties we have stayed in. True there is a big basket containing leaflets, fliers and menus for local eateries, but little comment on which of these are the best. Similarly, information on practical aspects of living in the cottage (such as when the bins are collected) are either not there or not immediately obvious and the usual English Country Cottages folder which lists useful contact details etc. only had very sparse information in it.
If you have limited mobility, The Old Chapel is actually a good property to rent (providing you can manage the drive down to it, of course) as it is all on one level, with no steps.
The cost of renting The Old Chapel varies dependent on the time of year you stay there, but is generally in the £500-600 per week range. This is quite expensive for what is a relatively small property. However, the location and nature of the property made it worth this extra premium in our view and we would happily stay there again.
Although not the cheapest property available in the area, I'd argue that this is one of the nicest and most atmospheric. It's perfect if you want a peaceful holiday where you can be undisturbed by the modern world, but still have easy access to major centres of population and lots of places to visit.
The Old Chapel
© Copyright SWSt 2012