Old St John's Church

England / Gamblesby, Cumbria
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Old St John's Church - a truly unique, lovingly restored heavenly haven in the idyllic Eden Valley, featuring stunning views both inside and out. 

If you're a fan of George Clarke's ‘The Restoration Man' TV programme, then you may already be familiar with Old St John's Church, an exquisite Grade II listed building nestled in the rural Cumbrian village of Gamblesby.

Originally built in 1868 on an ancient site, the building's restoration was a painstaking, family-run labour of love that began with its purchase in 2010 by custodians Phil and Joanne.  Their journey was helped along by the warmth and support of the local community, and the church has been brought well into the 21st century with unusual and contemporary features that add to the breathtaking beauty of its original architecture.

Sleeping up to 8 people in 3 ensuite bedrooms (plus one downstairs bedroom with WC/shower opposite), the church is set in half an acre of green garden.  The building features original, ornate stained glass windows, together with thoughtfully-positioned glass panels that make the most of the natural light.  George Clarke marvelled at the uniqueness of the building's architecture at the start of the restoration project, including the gently curved walls and high ceilings that provide a luxuriously spacious feeling from the moment you step inside.

The welcoming living area comprises a kitchen, dining and living rooms, along with a cosy snug that was formerly the vestry!  Prepare a hearty breakfast in the well-equipped kitchen, as you watch colourful patterns of daylight stream in through the stained glass windows.  When it's time to eat, there's a large, sociable dining table complete with pews, perfect for enjoying feasts fit for the church elders.

If you're looking to relax with a good book, the living area includes three generous sofas - why not choose your favourite and curl up with the warming log burner and a steaming cuppa, or maybe even a glass of communion wine.

The church spire is the setting for the master bedroom, described by George Clarke as a beautifully snug and cosy romantic room.  A loft ladder will lead you to the jewel in the crown - a magnificent viewing platform - and the ensuite bathroom features a luxurious sunken bath...you may never want to leave!

The largest bedroom is found in the centre of the church, and can be prepared as a super kingsize or two singles.  You'll find a sumptuous L-shaped bath in the ensuite, together with a thermostatic shower that's ideal after a hard day exploring the local area.

The third bedroom is quirky and unusual, with a window that overlooks the kitchen and its own ensuite shower room.  For larger groups, there's an additional room on the ground floor with a sofa bed that can be made up for two, and an extra WC/shower room directly opposite.

It's unlikely you'll tire of the natural views, whether you're enjoying the intricacies of the design inside, or the wonders of nature outside.  However, you'll find plenty of in-home entertainment to suit all tastes in the church itself, with a large 3D TV in the living area and a collection of DVDs.  There's also a TV to be found in each of the bedrooms.  For some old-school entertainment there's also a selection of board games, and an iPod docking station if you feel like singing in the shower!

For an extra slice of luxury, there are a number of personal services that can be arranged for your stay, ranging from professional chef hire for celebrating a special occasion with a perfectly cooked meal, or simply for those who don't feel like cooking (and why would you, when you're away!), deliveries of delicious, made-to-order hot food and even in-church manicures.  Bespoke group activities such as paintball, archery and bushcraft can also be pre-arranged.

Outside, you'll find a wealth of invigorating activity available right from your doorstep.  Walking, hiking and cycling are taken to a whole new level in the North Pennines, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with open heather moors and wondrous woods teeming with distinctive wildlife.  The church is also a wonderful base for the renowned North Lakes, featuring the Ullswater ‘Steamers' - a picturesque eight-mile cruise through the Lakeland's highest mountains.

History buffs will enjoy the many sites to explore, including Long Meg and her daughters, a stone circle with an intriguing story.  And how about Lakeland Maize Maze for an active outdoor puzzle the kids will love?

Old St John's Church is the perfect hideaway for those looking for a home from home that's infused with warmth and history, and with so much to see and do right on your doorstep, you may find that heaven really does exist on Earth!

Things to note

Pets are permitted on prior arrangement (only downstairs), manicure/pedicure services, personal chef services, pop-up restaurant all available on request, cot and highchair available on request.

Tried and tested

"Thank you again for a great holiday/mini-honeymoon,it was a great experience overall. Wonderful village,excellent bakery near by with the best English breakfast ever! We will recommend your property to everyone!"
Kate, Jozef, Janka & Karol

"We have just had the most amazing week away with friends at Old St John's Church in the Lakes! I can't recommend this place highly enough! What a stunning building / restoration. Plenty of room, beautiful log fires, great walks....the true Lakes! It sleeps 8 comfortably & is very reasonably priced! We will be back!"

"We had a lovely time, my husband said it was the best surprise he'd had and everyone loved it.  It was perfect.  I've already had some friends asking how to book  having seen it on our face book pages. We were all sad to leave, the weekend went so quick and it felt like home for us. I know it took a lot of hard work and time to restore the property but it is impressive. Thank you again for being so accommodating with our last minute booking."

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The basics

Region: Gamblesby, Cumbria
Cost (from): £105 per night midweek
Sleeps: 6-8
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 4
Minimum stay: 3 nights (weekend)
Property ref: 286


Sleeps up to 8, 3 double ensuite bedrooms (TV in each), optional downstairs bedroom with sofa bed (shower room), fully equipped kitchen, dishwasher, washing machine, open plan living/dining area, 42" 3D television, double sided log burner/fireplace, free WiFi, DVD player & DVD collection, board games, iPod docking station, lawned garden, parking for up to 4 cars.

Local activities

Watermill, caves, railway, galleries, maze, Hadrian's Wall, lakes, boating, yachting, canoeing, steamer cruises, swimming, pony trekking, hiking, cycling, horse riding.

At a glance

  • Grade II listed converted church in Gamblesby, Cumbria, sleeping up to 8 people in 4 bedrooms (3 ensuite).
  • Wi-Fi enabled and family friendly, with a cot and highchair available on request - and you can even bring your well-behaved dog.
  • A selection of in-home services and outdoor activity can be arranged, including a personal chef, beauty treatments and group activity sessions including paintballing and archery.
  • Perfectly located as an ideal base for exploring the North Lakes and the North Pennines, with a wide selection of entertainment and dining venues nearby.
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Old St John's Church
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Company Info:

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Host Unusual Limited
Registered office:
Space 282
282 Leigh Road