Posted on 17th January 2014

Do Rectories Represent the Perfect Village Idyll?

Martin Williamson, Head of Residential PropertyTraditionally at the heart of a village, a rectory or vicarage conjures up a sublime image of a village idyll. Their enduring popularity as the property of choice for many aspirant couples and growing families in particular means that such homes are increasingly hot property. Their prime location at the very heart of a village, within a stones throw of the church, the local shop and the village pub, makes them increasingly popular.

As the modern-day vicar seeks to move away from a high-cost old rectory to a lower-cost home which occupies a position that is more conducive to running several parishes, more vicarages are coming onto the market. Surprisingly, a larger number of rectories are for sale when the economy is weak. According to Charles Moore, chairman and founder of the Rectory Society, such properties make fantastic family homes. He explains that rectories are a "safe bet; "they tend to be aesthetically pleasing and are part of a small community.

Georgian rectories tend to be less ecclesiastical than those built in the Victorian era, which tend to verge on the Gothic. The high point for the construction of these elegant yet spacious properties took place in the early twentieth century at a time when Anglican clergy were considered to be gentlemen. These properties benefitted from large gardens that were perfect for village fetes and garden parties. They also usually had a large study and servants quarters creating much scope for sizable living rooms, studies, guest bedrooms and snugs today.

David Chary, Partner at Sanderson Weatherall, explains the popularity of old rectories: "We are seeing increasing numbers of rectories on the market, and have several on our books at the moment. These are coming to the market I believe for a number of different reasons. Their popularity is in part because the property market is seeing a resurgence at the higher end. Often, when asked, prospective buyers at the top end want a property that is desirable, is solidly built, has stood the test of time and is in a prime location in a picturesque village setting.

"Their increased popularity is also in part because priorities within the church have changed, with regards to how it spends its funds. With money more likely to be put into outreach and other direct action, rather than upon maintaining these beautiful, grand properties, opportunities are arising for people to own them. This could be the perfect time to buy such a property at a time when the property market is seeing some green shoots of growth.

According to the latest estimates from the Rectory Society there are around 5,000 old rectories and similar properties, based on data taken from Royal Mail lists. So, there may still be plenty of scope to live the village idyll. As a footnote, anyone in the market for a rectory should bear in mind that homes near churches can carry a liability to pay chancel repairs.