A FORMER “fire and brimstone” church is up for sale as a family home – complete with the original pulpit in the dining room.
The Old Free Church in Ardgay, Sutherland, was built in 1849 and was recently been converted into a three-bedroomed home.
It is on the market for £275,000 and boasts a modern kitchen, two luxury bathrooms, spacious bedrooms and a large garden.
But among the original features that are certain to stop potential buyers in their tracks is a two-tier, wooden pulpit accessed by a 10-step staircase.
The pulpit – which could bring an interesting twist to mealtime conversations – leads to a private office from which generations of ministers emerged to warn the flock about the temptations of the flesh.
Pictures of the open-plan dining room show the wooden structure raised high above the slate tiles.
To the right of the pulpit is a dining table, and on the other side lies the modern kitchen together with a feature presbyterian churchmen would likely have regarded with scorn – underfloor heating.
Mood lights installed on the ground floor also mean that those wanting to practise their speeches can create a complementary atmosphere.
The two decks of the pulpit were intended to show the relative importance of the readings delivered there.
For example, the bottom tier would be used for community announcements, the middle tier was for the gospel and the top tier was reserved for the delivery of the sermon.
Whereas modern families might discuss X Factor hopefuls or Leicester FC at the adjoining dining table, much more serious subjects were reserved for the sermons of the 19th Century.
Congregations were told by their fiery Calvinist spiritualist leaders that every person is “enslaved to sin” and must be saved by God. Even musical instruments were banned for much of the life of the church as they were considered a violation of the Ten Commandments’ prohibition of graven images.
The B-listed property also comes with the original church bell, which was installed when the building was first erected.
And the upper floor boasts a L-shaped lounge and gallery landing which looks down onto the lower levels.
Estate agents Bell Ingram have put the church on the market for just £275,000 – over £100,000 cheaper than a Kensington car parking space which was sold in 2014.
They describe the property as “a beautifully converted, three-bedroom former Free Church situated in a quiet location in the village of Ardgay”.
They add that the conversion was “carried out to the highest standard” and the property is in “walk in condition”.
The church is located in a large walled garden with gravel parking area and external store.
It is situated opposite a primary school and can be and can be accessed from the road via a dirt driveway.
Joanne Stennett, of Bell Ingram, said: “The Old Free Church is a stunning, one-of-a-kind property that would be the perfect purchase for any house-hunter seeking a home with a difference.
“Unlike many former church buildings, which would often require extensive renovation, this property has been modernised and upgraded to a very high standard while still maintaining its period and historic charm.”