In its former life, many years ago, The Butterfly Loft was home to the stable boys who lived over the “shop” looking after the coaching horses that stopped at The Bull Hotel. The Bull was (and still is) on Watling Street, the busy Roman road running from London to Holyhead. Stony Stratford is half-way between London and Birmingham, so in the eighteenth century it was a popular stopping off spot.
The Loft’s original roof windows are quite small. I suppose most of the daylight would have come in through the door and perhaps be supplemented by fire light. Although we have plenty of electric lighting in place, we thought that a bit more natural light and air wouldn’t go amiss. And while we were in improving mode, we also wanted to add a little en suite to the bedroom.
Stony is a very old town and most of the buildings on the High Street are listed. Although tucked away just behind the High Street, the Butterfly Loft is in a grade two star listed building, so any changes we make must be approved by the local conservation officer. Last year architects and heritage experts descended, and we had our plans drawn up.
Once the plans are submitted it’s in the lap of the demi-gods (or conservation officers as they call them here). As wells as sending in the plans and details of the heritage products we proposed to use, there was also a ceremonial visit by two officials, one planning and one conservation. We reverently showed them the Loft and explained the plans. They were very nice, though they asked so many questions I was nervous as if I was taking an exam. I was glad that Alex, my heritage expert was there to give all the technical information.
It turns out we must have passed the exam, because in January we got notification that they had approved the plans and the two new rooflights and en suite could go ahead.
Getting permission was only the first stage. It took a while to get the new rooflights done. They had to be to heritage spec. The company we used (The Rooflight Company based at Shipton-under-Wychwood in the Cotswolds) was excellent. I was fully prepared to wait a couple of months for them because they were being made to order, but in fact, they were super-speedy.
The delay was caused by getting a quote from suitable roofers. If you remember, the autumn of 2019 was incredibly wet and that meant delays in roofing projects, so in the early part of this year roofers were catching up and I still hadn’t got a quote before lockdown …
Eventually persistence and patience were rewarded and the lovely people from Boxx Build Solutions and Able Plumbing respectively came in to do their stuff. As I write we are just finishing the decoration of the new room. It’s lovely to see the new shafts of light steaming in, making the Butterfly Loft even more beautiful and comfortable than it was. We’re delighted with the results and we think our guests will be too.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
If you’re thinking of staying in Milton Keynes do get in touch.