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Words: Sarah Winstanley
Photography: Courtesy of J H Walter
Featured in the February 2016 issue

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When Dr Nigel Payne and his wife Christina decided to move, they didn’t have to look far to find their ideal home.

The couple had lived in a four bedroomed house at Bassingham to the south of Lincoln since 2005, but Christina had always longed to own a character property with a swimming pool. So towards the end of 2010, they embarked on a search to find their dream home and came across Croft Barn, just three miles away in the village of Carlton-le-Moorland.

Nigel, who was in the RAF for twenty-two years and now works as head of client delivery at BT, said: “Croft Barn was one of the first properties we saw but we carried on looking around because we were new to house buying, having lived in married quarters for twelve years. We really liked the house – the games room in particular sealed the deal for me – but we thought we should look around to get a comparison.”

Remarkably, the couple who were selling Croft Barn wanted to downsize and move into Bassingham. After both viewed each other’s properties, they decided on a house swap.

Nigel said: “A house swap seemed a sensible thing to do because they wanted our house and we wanted theirs. We embarked on it not really knowing what we were doing but we used solicitors and luckily it all worked out well.

“We moved on the same day and the removal trucks passed each other on the two or three-mile stretch of road between the two houses.”

Both from the South Wales Valleys – Christina is from Aberdare and Nigel is from Merthyr Tydfil – the couple have been together for twenty-two years, having married in 1993. Nigel joined the RAF as his “escape from the Valleys” and the couple moved around a lot including spells in RAF Cosford in Wolverhampton, Germany and RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

With his last posting to RAF Waddington, Nigel left the forces in 2008 and first worked in IT as a programme manager for Mouchel on Lincoln’s Brayford Wharf.

He said: “One of the main reasons we looked for a house in this area was because I had no idea of the kind of job I was going to get after I left the RAF. But this area, with its links to Nottingham, Newark and Lincoln, seemed ideal and opened up a lot of options. In fact, we have both worked in Lincoln and Nottingham since our move.

“From Newark, you can get the train directly into London. I know people in Carlton le Moorland who commute to London every day for work. Some of the guys used to catch the same train every day, got to know each other and in December, they had a Christmas Party on the train!”

Once settled in their new home, the couple made small changes to make it more comfortable, including redecorating throughout, updating the en-suite bathroom, installing a central island unit in the kitchen and creating an extra bedroom by putting up a partition wall in one of the bedrooms. The extra room is now used by Nigel as a home office.

“Creating bedroom five seemed the obvious thing to do because the original room was a huge bedroom which had sockets, radiators and separate entrances on each side,” said Nigel.

Originally built in 1748, the barn was used over the years as a cowshed, fowl house and piggery. It was converted into a home in the late 1980s by well-known builder Peter Sowerby, who has built many homes around Lincoln. The swimming pool and the games room in the house were added at a later date. The barn stands in a quiet cul-de-sac of four other houses, which were all built at the same time.

“Carlton-le-Moorland is a small, friendly village with a real community spirit. The White Hart pub, just around the corner, holds regular charity events and last month Christina helped cook a Christmas meal in the Village Hall for the OAPs in the village,” said Nigel.

The house itself is a brick and pantile barn conversion offering 6,000 square feet of space, which combines traditional features such as beams and fireplaces with all modern lifestyle fittings. On the ground floor there is a reception hall, 28ft principal reception room, dramatic vaulted and galleried dining hall, farmhouse kitchen, indoor swimming pool and cloakroom, whilst on the first floor there is a master bedroom with dressing room and full en-suite bathroom, four further double bedrooms – one with a ‘Jack and Jill’ en-suite shower room – and an impressive thirty-two-foot home cinema/games room.

“The house has proved to be exactly what we hoped it would be. It’s a lovely area to live in and because we live so far from home, we get a lot of friends and family to stay,” said Nigel.

“We usually watch films and, being Welsh, we are massive rugby fans and usually invite local guys to watch the games too. Although it can get a bit tricky if Wales lose!

“There is a bar in the games room for drinks; I play the drums and there is a small stage in the corner of the games room which I am slowly filling with other instruments I can’t really play. But usually someone will jump up and join in.”

With lots of nieces and nephews to entertain, Nigel and Christina are used to throwing pool parties where the adults sit outside on the patio keeping a close eye on the children in the pool.

Now, however, with family ties pulling them back to their beloved South Wales, Nigel and Christina have decided the time is right to sell Croft Barn. They are currently looking for a property in Cardiff which will enable them to enjoy the benefits of city living, whilst being just twenty minutes’ drive away from their families.

Nigel said: “Ideally we would like to pick this place up and move it brick by brick to South Wales. We are not sure what we will find once we start looking for houses but I don’t think there will be that many houses in the Valleys with swimming pools!”

• Croft Barn at Manor Court, Carlton-le-Moorland is on the market with JH Walter for £575,000. For more information, contact the estate agent on (01522) 504304.

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