Councillor’s home to be star of TV show

The Old Priest's House Hellingly
The Old Priest's House Hellingly

A 14th century Hellingly home is to appear on celebrity property developer Sarah Beeny’s Channel 4 show, Double your House for Half the Money.

Homeowner, Barby Dashwood-Morris, Chair of Planning South for Wealden District Council, has lovingly restored The Priest House over a number of years.

It is now being held up as a good example of how to design and renovate your home in the hit channel 4 series.

Ms Dashwood-Morris said: “They were scheduled to spend 2.5 hours but actually were here for over four and they were so very enthusiastic about how the house looked – ‘even better than they hoped’.

She said she was pleased her Church Lane home was on the show.

“ I was thrilled. Although not a professional I do ‘dabble’ and was responsible for all the design ideas throughout the house and it was a huge compliment to know others thought it was worth filming,” she said.

“Because The Priest House is over 600 hundred years old and listed, I worked closely with Wealden District Council Conservation department to ensure all the plans met with their approval.

“I started by commissioning an archaeological/historical report that gave the details of the changes made over the years.

“This gave a clear insight into what was precious and needed to be preserved and those areas that had little merit so could be altered or removed.

“Renovating a home of this age means finding and using a lot of craftsmen to undertake many rare and often forgotten skills and understandably that costs money.

“So to keep to the budget I worked with a number of wonderful Sussex specialists who taught me some of their skills and I undertook many of the more labour intensive tasks myself.

“The entire project took over ten years as I worked on one room at a time and after what seemed to be a life-time the house was complete.

“I have learned so much and the finished house if an example of how to turn an ancient Sussex Hall into a home that meets all the comforts of modern living.”

She cannot recall the programme ever featuring a home from the Wealden district and said it is a ‘coup’ for this part of the world.

The Priest House is due to appear in a September show.