Wednesday 13th December 2017
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Words: Sarah Winstanley
Photography: Courtesy of Masons
Featured in the September 2016 issue

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When John and Janet Hadley returned to the UK after five years living in America and Canada, it was the expansive skies of Lincolnshire that attracted them to their new home.

Originally from Hampshire, the couple had lived in Brighton for most of their working lives until John’s work in IT took them to Florida and then on to a small village on the outskirts of Toronto in Canada. Whilst abroad, Janet rediscovered her love of pottery and ceramics but when John decided to take early retirement, the lure of the UK became too much.

Renting a house in Barnstable, they looked far and wide for a property which would meet a list of requirements inspired by their time in Canada – they wanted some land so they could keep animals, grow vegetables and become self-sufficient, and an outbuilding so Janet could develop her craft further.

Janet explained: “In Canada, people automatically grow their own vegetables, cook and are incredibly practical. It enthused us so we wanted to come back to the UK, enjoy the seasons and know where our food came from by growing vegetables and fruit and rearing pigs, sheep and chickens.

“It was entirely different to anything we had done before and that was intentional.”

Once back in the UK, it took months for the couple to find the perfect home. John added: “We looked for about seven to eight months up and down the country. We were ‘location agnostic’ but when we came to Lincolnshire, we saw that the wide vistas and big skies were reminiscent of Canada.

“Initially we spent a lot of time around Boston and also found a place in Barton upon Humber, but when we saw Lowgate House – this red brick house set against blue skies, surrounded by fields and with its own eighty yard long pond – it stood out. We knew at that point that we had found the right property with the right attributes and we believe that finding it in this place was serendipitous.”

Set in the hamlet of Eskham, just a mile from the village of Marshchapel near the popular market town of Louth, Lowgate House is an individual detached modern residence in 3.5 acres of grounds which include formal gardens, a wildlife pond fed by a private bore hole, a 2.3 acre grass paddock and a substantial outbuilding providing a garage and workshop and a large studio.

The large house, which is a quarter of a mile from the nearest neighbour, features three reception rooms including a large dining hall, a farmhouse kitchen with triple aspect breakfast room, three double bedrooms, a contemporary bathroom and two en suite shower rooms.

Originally the site of a bungalow, the house was rebuilt in 1999 using handmade bricks and many reclaimed materials which give it a lived in, country feel.

Once the couple had moved in they immediately converted an outbuilding, which had once been premises for a light engineering business, into a spacious double garage and a large, well-lit pottery studio for Janet.

Over the next three years, they carried out some work on the house to update it and give it a contemporary feel, including putting an en suite in the master bedroom, refurbishing the bathroom, downstairs cloakroom and utility areas and replacing the old carpet and fireplace in the lounge with pine floorboards and a multi-fuel burner.

Outside, they applied for planning permission for a large polytunnel so they could grow vegetables. They also produced meat from pigs, sheep and chickens and fruit, including nectarines, apricots, figs and grapes, grown in their sixty-foot greenhouse.

They also added patio areas to make the outdoors a more sociable space and somewhere to entertain in the evenings.

Since moving to Lowgate House, Janet’s pottery and ceramic career has taken off. She exhibits her work at the Lincoln Artists’ Market, which is held on the first Saturday of the month from March to September in Castle Square between Lincoln Cathedral and Castle. She also exhibits her work in Marshchapel, Tathwell and Watts For Tea Tearooms at Grainthorpe each year, and her work is available to buy at the Manor Stables Craft Centre in Fulbeck and at Artisan Makers in Lincoln’s historic Bailgate.

Janet, who previously worked as a self-employed facilitator of training courses for companies, said: “Lincolnshire is very enthusiastic about and rich in arts and crafts. There are lots of local art shows, and artists from Yorkshire and Derbyshire also come into Lincolnshire to exhibit, which is very good for amateurs and semi-professionals alike.”

Both Janet and John studied teaching at university in the 1970s, and Janet specialised in art teaching and pottery initially. Janet said: “I attempted to make a living out of it then but it was very difficult, so I went back to teaching and then into adult education as a facilitator. Getting back into pottery and ceramics when we went to America was so exciting. It was like finding gold!

“In America, there is a large population of artists and studios where you rent space to work; over here, you have to be much more self-sufficient.”

Over the years, John and Janet have thrown themselves into the local community and enjoyed lending a hand at events including chine suppers, bric-a-brac stalls and coffee mornings.

Janet said: “The community in this area are really welcoming and have included us in many events.”

Whilst the couple have enjoyed their time in the house, they have decided the time is right to downsize so that Janet can focus on her pottery and ceramics.

John said: “We will either move closer to Lincoln or make the break and head to the south coast. Whatever happens, we will have to find somewhere with enough space for a studio for Janet.”

Janet added: “I will miss this house. It’s so lovely and light that it still reminds us of houses in Canada and America, where so much daylight comes in. I will miss the people as I have some lovely friends but this is a chance to move on and meet new friends, too.”

Lowgate House at Eskham, near Marshchapel, is on the market with Masons with a guide price of £535,000. For more information contact the estate agents on (01507) 350500.

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