Ian Godfrey's Cheltenham Town House
PUBLISHED: 14:42 19 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:08 20 February 2013
It might have once been the Barratt house of its day, but this Cheltenham townhouse has been painstakingly restored to all its previous glories. By Victoria Jenkins
When Ian Godfrey first saw his Regency townhouse in Cheltenham it had been an acupuncture clinic for years - "so there was no kitchen, no bathroom, just one giant statue of Buddha left in the sitting room," he says.
Apparently three or four couples had lived there, one per floor and had managed with an assortment of tiny kitchenettes and shower stalls.
Luckily that meant the house had remained unscathed at a time - the 1970s - when other period houses were being "made over", often very badly.
"It still had lots of original features such as wonderful marble fireplaces, mahogany banisters, servants bells and elaborate cornicing," says Ian. However as he had fallen in love with another house he turned it down and it was bought by a couple who put in a bathroom, got planning permission to change the basement and did some replastering and decorating.
However five months later they put the house back on the market.
"Considering I hated the house when I saw it, I did buy it in the end because I lost the one I loved," he says. "I still dithered but as I wanted to move and I wanted a townhouse I finally went ahead and bought it. Their magnolia paint job and removal of the carpets revealed the full potential of the house!"
The television programme Location, Location, Location had become interested in Ian's search for a house and had attempted to find him one.
"However they didn't succeed but after I had moved in to this one they came back to see it," he says. "Friends say they still see me on repeat programmes some five years later!"
The house had been built at some point between 1838 and 1842 as part of a speculative estate by Joseph Pitt, the Barratt builder of his day.
"When George 111 first came to take the waters Cheltenham was a poor little place compared with Gloucester, until the latter was bombed in the last war, " says Ian. "But Joseph Pitt helped turn Cheltenham into a popular spa by finding another mineral spring and went on to build the famous Pittville Pump Rooms. He turned the surrounding marshland into the pleasure park it is today by creating a lake and building carriageways through the park. Then he started selling off plots with pre-designed houses such as mine, intended for the local well-to-do merchants. Unfortunately he became bankrupt! Different builders then went on to build the various houses which is why they all have different interior details and dimensions - only the facades match."
The standard way to build house in Regency times was to have a raised ground floor, hence the steps up to his front door, as this maximised views of the square and provided room in the basement for the servants and kitchen and allowed delivery to the lower front door. Only the servants used the back garden for hanging clothes and so on which is why so much soil has been dug out from the back of the house - then dumped in the square.
"This explains why the front door opens onto the ground floor which becomes the first floor towards the back of the house with steps leading into the garden," he says. "And there is still a basement beneath."
Ian had to redesign this floor to create a kitchen out of three rooms - basically a corridor leading to a kitchenette with a boiler while beyond was a utility room with a shower, a washing machine and a cooker.
"That was all! There was also a store room out here with a roof of corrugated plastic complete with big hole. That part has now become my breakfast area."
Because of the basement below Ian was not able to lay heavy granite floor tiles but settle for a suspended floor of Gerflor vinyl tiles
"I did choose granite worktops but even they put a bit of a strain on the floor," he says.
He also chose handmade maple units from The Cotswold Collection and painted the walls in Dulux Salisbury Stone 3.
He also chose a Belling range cooker with a Bosch extractor fan, a Neff dishwasher and a Siemens fridge freezer. "In fact my kitchen became a film star," he laughs. "Some of the scenes in the film "Outlaw" were filmed here - it was the barrister's house in the film film and his wife was killed in my kitchen. I still find the odd blood stain! (actually glycerine and red dye.)"
Ian also had to sand and stain all the original wood floors throughout the rest of the ground floor.
The top floor of his four-storey house had been rendered open-plan by previous owners so Ian had to reinstate several walls and replace missing doors. He chose ones of reclaimed pine from Coxes reclamation yard in Moreton-in-Marsh and now the top floor holds two guest bedrooms and two en-suite bathrooms.
"The previous owner had managed to instal a bathroom on the first floor but I went on to put in three more, all from bathstore.com to match hers," he says. "The fourth is in the basement, part of which I have turned into a separate flat and let out."
When it came to furnishing his home Ian chose big comfortable items, many of them antiques found on his travels.
"But my parents gave me a wonderful house-warming gift of a mahogany George III dining table bought at Westonbirt Antiques Fair," he says. "I have a few other Georgian and Regency items too - after all it was all thanks to George III that my house ever got built in the first place."
Ian's latest venture, with a colleague, is a doctor-only wrinkle reduction treatments, either as a stand alone treatment, or as part of a luxurious and annonymous overnight stay in conjunction with a leading hotel chain. More details can be found at www.refreshmedical.co.uk