The basis of a gorgeous family home was in place when John and Jackie Devlin bought the The Old Manse in Bothwell. Now, after years of effort and imagination, its potential is realised
The church bells strike the hour on this crisp December morning. John and Jackie Devlin both automatically look up at the kitchen clock to check the time – smile, and nod knowingly. The couple admit they feel privileged to live in The Old Manse to Old Bothwell Parish Church.
It has been home to the Devlins and their three children – Jack, 18; Kate, 17; and David, 10 – for 11 years. The Old Manse is a handsome B-listed sandstone building, which is believed to date from around 1800, and which was extended in 1868. The house, set within Bothwell’s Fairyknowe Gardens, faces south-west towards the church, with its exterior boasting ornate carving over the bay windows. On entering The Old Manse through the large entrance porch, you find yourself in a splendid hallway with 30-foot-high stairwell that features triple windows at the top which drench the whole house with natural daylight.
From start to finish, the choice of wall coverings, the attention to detail, placing of furnishings, and the finish within the kitchen and bathrooms is exquisite. The Old Manse is a charming five-bedroom home. However, when the couple bought the property it was tired and in need of some tender loving care. It had been owned by an interior designer in the 1970s and 1980s, before being bought over by a building firm and rented out. Internally, John and Jackie walked into a time-warp when they got the keys in August 2002.
“When we moved in the house was stuck in the 1970s and ’80s, and had quite elaborate wallpaper and heavy drapes in every room,” says Jackie. “The kitchen was dark and dingy, and that was the first room I identified as needing changed – ironically it took us nine years to get round to replacing it.
“The bathrooms were old fashioned too. Thankfully the structure of the house, and the internal cornicing and plasterwork, was all good and intact,” she says.
When the family moved in, Jackie was pregnant with David – with the imminent arrival of a new baby at the end of that year, they gave themselves a Christmas deadline to get the living areas comfortable.
“When we moved in we had to get scaffolding put up to decorate,” she says. “We concentrated on decorating the sitting room and drawing room, dining room, the hallway, and Jack and Kate’s bedrooms. Once Christmas was over we focused on the new baby, the kids and school, before coming back to looking at the house.”
Before they turned their attention back to the house though, they tackled a derelict cottage within the grounds. John says: “The roof of the cottage had caved in and there was a 1930s-style conservatory on the end that was dangerous and had to be demolished. We refurbished the cottage in keeping with the age of the buildings, and we managed to make it into a two-bedroom granny flat. When the interior designer owned the house many years ago, they used the cottage as their showroom.”
In the main house, the couple got all of the original sash and case windows over-hauled and re-weighted where necessary, and the functioning shutters stripped back. They replaced the boiler, added additional radiators, and replaced all of the plumbing while they were upgrading the family bathroom, master en-suite and kitchen – they also added a downstairs WC. They installed a stove in the drawing room, laid new flooring in the main living rooms, and sanded and varnished the floorboards in the hallway. They also created a new utility room.
The family’s sitting room is a bright space with plump brown leather sofas peppered with vibrant green cushions and throws that tone with the rug and chest coffee table. They currently use the other main public room as a study space for the children, while the formal dining room boasts red high-backed chairs that stand out against the dramatic black wallpaper and marble fireplace.
The family bathroom is found at mid-landing level, along with the fifth bedroom, which the family uses as a TV and games room. Each of the bathrooms has been replaced with a contemporary mix of white and silver textured tiles, with either black or silver flooring – both bathrooms feature walk-in glass showers, with the family bathroom also claiming a double ended bath and underfloor heating. The remaining four bedrooms are all on the upper floor, with the master bedroom featuring a rich mix of black-framed bed highlighted against silver walls, and splashes of red picked up through cushions.
In the kitchen, three mulberry walls embrace a mix of contemporary brown and cream units, with a black five-ring Rangemaster and American fridge freezer at its heart. A black island is circled with five stools, while three over-sized clocks telling the time in New York, London and Tokyo hang on the remaining cream wall.
“We deliberately designed the kitchen this way so that we could all eat together at different times of the day,” says Jackie. “The kids are all busy doing different things so the time we spend eating together is important – even if it’s just 20 minutes together at breakfast, it means we all hear each other’s news. David is fascinated with New York so a friend suggested we hang the clocks at the city times – Tokyo just fitted in with London and New York.”
Having loved this home for 11 years, the family are now on the move, however it is clear they will cherish their time here. “I feel privileged to have lived in this house because of its history and proximity to the church,” says Jackie.
“It has been an excellent family home for us, with the courtyard being a suntrap during the summer. We have had parties with 90 people here and the house has coped. It is just a great home.”
The Old Manse, 7 Fairyknowe Gardens, Bothwell, is for sale at a fixed price of £750,000 through Savills (0141-222 5875, www.savills.com)