Antiques Roadshow expert restores former chapel he bought for 60K

  • 2 months ago
An Antiques Roadshow expert has bought a former chapel for 60K to convert into a home and workshop - and is calling on others to ‘save these historic structures’.

Wayne Colquhoun, 60, bought Capel Salem in Corris in Wales - which still had a pulpit with a Bible in.

He says he fell in love with the 1868 romantic slate structure which had fallen into disrepair.

The Grade II listed chapel upkeep became too expensive for the diminishing congregation and was on the market in 2017.

Across Wales, chapels fall into the landscape through disrepair, demolition or ‘insensitive conversion’.

He bought the chapel for £60k, transforming the upper gallery into a three-bed apartment, adding floorboards covering half the gallery.

Wayne said: “When I bought it the bible was still on the pulpit, as though the congregation had walked out and closed the door.

“When people close the doors on old buildings- that’s the danger point. It gets damp and dry rot sets in.

“These historic structures are evocative of Welsh history and have to be saved - we need people who will put their heart and soul into them because it’s easy to butcher conversions.”

He aims to maintain the lower space and Canadian pitch pine panelling for use as his Antiques and Fine Art shop, moved from Liverpool, plus a pottery and sculpture workshop.

He aims to keep as many original features of the property as possible, from its single-glazed arched windows to reusing the pews as kitchen work surfaces.

Nearby, three chapels closest to Capel Salem have closed permanently to worship.

Wayne is in the process of transforming the lower level into his antiques and fine art shop.

He hopes to hold talks and workshops in the space, aiming to build up to employing locals and 'giving back' to the community.

Just 500 feet away sits Holy Trinity Church which closed its doors in 2020 not through lack of attendance, but through disrepair.

Neil Sumner chair of Welsh Religious Buildings Trust wrote that the redundancy of chapels in Wales is due to a 19th century ‘expansionist fervour’ of Nonconformist Chapels (i.e. Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists).

In 1800 Caernarfonshire there were 30 chapels, rising to 221 in 1851, representing a 700 per cent increase.

Combining this flurry of builds with the 20th-century fall in attendance, Sumner wrote “the result is there are now too many buildings for current needs”.

In an attempt to preserve the character of the increasing chapel conversions, historic environment service Cadw has issued guidelines including keeping the front of the chapels untouched, retaining rooms with self-supporting partitions and allowing ‘characteristic features to show through the new walls and floors’.

Meanwhile the Buildings Trust attempt to conserve Welsh chapels through fundraising and management.

After leaving school Wayne went on to become a specialist in the restoration of historic and listed buildings.

Wayne has run an art gallery for over two decades and is an indepe