Two gold awards for converted church

Anne and Bill Monroe, outside Greystead Old Church, formerly St Luke's, near Kielder.
Anne and Bill Monroe, outside Greystead Old Church, formerly St Luke's, near Kielder.

A husband and wife team are celebrating after their converted church scooped two golds in a national travel awards scheme.

Greystead Old Church, near Kielder Water, took top spot in both the Best in North East England and Best Historic Property categories, as part of Sykes Cottages’ Gem Awards.

The property was bought by art historians Anne and Bill Monroe as it was particularly special to them – it was the church where they got married.

Dating back to 1818, the former church is steeped in memories for the duo as it was also where their four children were christened.

When the Monroes discovered the property was up for sale, they took on the challenge and embarked on a complete renovation, working with heritage specialists.

Since being made available to holidaymakers in 2013, the church has become popular for families wanting to explore the area and groups coming together for special occasions.

Anne said: “The church is a very special property for us, having been part of so many milestone moments in our lives. It’s so rewarding to see all the hard work pay off when our guests really appreciate their stay and give us great feedback.

“What Bill and I wanted to do was to revive the church’s beautiful period charm for people to enjoy again. We have been very pleased with the result and I was expecting it to be hugely popular, but the amount of bookings we’ve had has surpassed expectations.”

The Sykes Gem Awards celebrate excellence in holiday-cottage accommodation and saw thousands of entries from across the UK.

Judged by a panel of leading travel-industry experts, the Northumberland property was assessed on style, suitability, facilities, occupancy rate and customer feedback on cleanliness, comfort, location and value for money.

Elaine Holt, regional property consultant for Northumberland, said: “It’s brilliant that a holiday home in Northumberland won not just one, but two, Sykes Gem awards. The accolades really are a testament to the hard work put in by Anne and Bill.

“We’ve seen a 15 per cent boost in staycation bookings to Northumberland in the last year and with such a high standard of holiday homes in the area, we’re sure this will continue to rise.”