Drew Pritchard, the star of the Quest TV’s Salvage Hunters, moved into a Methodist chapel in the Conwy countryside in north Wales on 23rd June 1995. He was then just 25 years old and it was the first property he’d ever owned. ‘Oh it was a total mess,’ he says. ‘Completely derelict. There was no water, no drains, no planning permission. A friend told me I’d be better off pulling it down and starting all over again.’
But he wasn’t to be put off. ‘It’s the highest church in the valley and was built in 1812. I was determined to turn it into a home even though I had no money at all. Our bath, for instance (a Victorian claw-footed affair) came from a friend who was using it as a planter in his garden. I bought it for 80 quid.’
Since then Drew has accumulated a fascinating array of finds. Before the man the press calls the ‘junkyard genius’ sells up, take a look at the intriguing pieces in situ.
Drew’s home is filled with ecclesiastical pieces – perhaps not a surprise given that in the last 20 years he has cleared more than 500 religious buildings. The boxes with long handles, pictured above, are chapel collection boxes. The car on the wall that they sit below is from an old fairground dodgem ride.
The copy of a late-1950s Vespa was bought at Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair 16 years ago. Next to it is a stained-glass church window, c1850-60. Drew gets what he calls an ‘artistic kick’ out of placing of unlikely objects next to one another.
Drew is the son of a sign writer and has some unusual signboards in his home. The board by the window above details the good deeds performed by the rich of a Parish in the Lizard, Cornwall. It dates from the 18th century.
Drew has been familiar with church interiors for a long time – he started out apprenticed to a stained-glass restorer. His collection of ecclesiastical pieces includes crosses, statues, pews, an altar and a lot of kneelers. ‘I own so many kneelers I hardly know what to do with them. When the kids were small, they would use them to climb up the dining table,’ he laughs. The embroidered kneelers in the dining room come from St George’s church in Llandudno.
The cistern of this elegant lavatory is Edwardian but the seat is Georgian. It once belonged to Mick Jagger – Drew bought it from his plumber.
The claw-footed Victorian bath, overlooked by a taxidermy swan, was rescued from a friend’s garden. The mirror above it came from Drew’s parents’ garage (Drew grew up in nearby Glan Conwy). They used it to help reverse their car in accurately.
‘From the age of eight, my parents would take us around museums. It was my father who taught me how to look at things,’ says Drew. ‘Even as a young child I couldn’t understand why people would buy new things. I used to think, “Are you mad? Why not buy something old?”‘
Images: Grant Scott
Interview: Rachel Cooke