When Geoffrey Doughty first laid eyes on a crumbling, delapidated and vandalised church he knew one thing – it would make a perfect home.
Now, 16 years after buying the 19th century St Mary’s Church, Mr Doughty is selling it for £550,000.
It’s not a bad return on the £45,000 he paid for it in 1997, but Mr Doughty said he will be sad to see it go.
“It’s a fabulous house,” he said
“It’s very interesting and I’ve had people come here quite often over the last few years to do stories on it in magazines.
“When I bought it in 1997, it was a retirement present to myself.”
And it is some present.
The huge windows that throw light across the former altar are the first thing visitors see when they step through the front door, the door through which the congregations entered and left over many generations.
And the deeper into the house you get, the bigger the windows seem.
The 65-year-old said: “You get quite a lot of people who renovate churches.
“They are good as homes because there are always big windows so you get a lot of natural light coming in.”
There is also a downstairs toilet in what used to be the vestry, three first floor bedrooms, a family bathroom and a gallery landing.
There is also another little chapel out in the back garden, although that is owned by the Church Conservation Trust.
Mr Doughty was born and raised in Bilston and became an apprentice engineer, before working in design and eventually re-training to become a teacher.
His wide range of skills and contacts in the construction industry means he has been able to complete almost all of the work on the chapel on Longford Road, near Newport in Shropshire, by himself or with the help of friends.
Mr Doughty added: “I’m pretty sure the man who had this built, Ralph Leake, is buried in the chapel behind the house.
“Every now and then they come and have a look at it but they own about 300 churches around the country.”
According to the history books, Ralph Leake built the original Longford Church from 1804.
He had returned from India a wealthy man and took up residence at nearby Longford Hall, which is now used by boarders at Newport’s Adams Grammar School. Leake had an Italian architect build a place of worship for his employees, so the original building was torn down and its sandstone blocks used to build St Mary’s.
It was in use as a church until the 1970s, when it was owned by Adams Grammar.
However, later it became derelict and vandalised, which is when Mr Doughty stepped in and bought it.
He said: “I worked on the house full-time for about five years. It was my project. My retirement present to myself. I continued to work on it for about five years part time, but I had a lot of people who could help me out with stuff.
“I have a friend who is an architect who helped me out and I did a lot of design work before this.
“The house probably cost me £120,000 with all the work I have done on it and the purchase price.”
Mr Doughty, who lives at the house with his German Shepherd called Utz, said he felt like it was time for a change.
He said: “I’m not getting any younger and I think it is probably time for me to downsize. It is such a nice place to live though. You are almost hidden in the trees so you can properly relax and you almost feel cut off but then you can walk into Newport, it’s only about a mile.”
Mr Doughty said he is now looking for another challenge to take on for his next home, and has even looked at living in converted boats and railway carriages.
“I don’t know if I’ve got it in me for anything like this again but I could have a go at something smaller I suppose.”