Situated within a Dark Skies area in England’s most northerly national park, Greystead Institute offers guests an unforgettable taste of the borderlands. The former Victorian church hall has been converted into a beautiful holiday let by the Monroe family and they commissioned British Spirals & Castings to create a solid oak spiral staircase and a matching balustrade for the open-plan living area.
The Monroes had already overseen the conversion of two Georgian buildings at the site, Greystead Old Church and Greystead Coach House, into Gold-Award-winning holiday lets. The third cottage presented a significant challenge having remained derelict for over forty years since being sold by the Church of England in 1975. The family were keen to retain the character of the building in the refurbishment, particularly the full height interior space which features a mezzanine gallery. They chose to convert the ground floor space into a living room/kitchen, extending the mezzanine to form a landing which leads to the master bedroom and bathroom.
Finding the perfect style
The family wanted a spiral staircase to provide access to the expanded balcony and upstairs living spaces. As the staircase sits in a prominent position at the centre of the room, it needed to reflect the quality and history of the building. After a considerable search, Anne Monroe came across our website:
“I had tried various recommendations for local firms in Northumberland, but none could produce the type of spiral staircase we wanted” Anne said. “The moment I found British Spirals & Castings online I felt sure they were just what we were looking for – very high-quality staircases in metal or wood, custom-made, and superb, creative designs. These first impressions were immediately confirmed when I rang and spoke to their staff, and then to Richard Harding.”
To help find the right staircase for the cottage the couple visited our Derbyshire showroom.
“We were drawn initially to the metal staircases, but as soon as we saw the wooden ones we decided this is what we wanted” Anne explained. “They really do have the WOW factor, and we felt that a solid timber staircase would work best with the original wooden beams overhead, and the Victorian wooden floor below.”
Designing and creating the staircase and balustrade
At British Spirals & Castings, we pride ourselves on our ability to design and manufacture staircases without ever having to visit a property. By helping customers to take precise measurements, and ensuring the finished pieces match them exactly, we are able to supply staircases to all parts of the world. In some cases, however, we understand it can be helpful for us to come to site – particularly on older buildings where there can be unusual features or considerations.
One of the main challenges of the Greystead Institute project was the low eaves on either side of the hall which meant the balustrade needed to slope down towards the two side walls. Richard went to site and had an in-depth discussion with the project architect and the joiner who would be installing the staircase and balcony. Detailed templates were then produced and, by working together, we were able to come up with the best solution.
The solid oak staircase has a diameter of 1500mm providing plenty of room for users and making a real statement in the centre of the space. To ensure the design met Building Regulation requirements, the staircase was designed with three spindles per tread with solid oak risers. To match the simple, clean design of the main space, elegant square profile spindles were used. These taper down to a circular profile near where they meet the solid oak handrail.
The spindle designs were continued to the balustrade. To complete this aesthetic, square profile newels were used for the staircase and balustrade. These have circular base plates and low-profile pyramid style caps.
Installing the finished pieces
Once the designs were finalised, our team of cabinet makers got to work crafting the pieces taking care to ensure they were not only finished to the highest standards, but also met the precise project measurements. As with all our wood staircases, we used only the finest Grade A timber and we will plant five saplings at our anniversary forest to help offset the wood we used. Our current total is 3500 trees.
“Once the order was placed, Richard and his team were universally helpful at all stages of the design and production, and always happy to discuss matters in depth via phone or email” Anne said. “The staircase and balustrade arrived beautifully packaged and with clear instructions for our joiner on how to install. Everyone found Richard and his team a pleasure to work with. As a result, the installation went exactly according to plan with no hitches.”
To help bring out the wood’s natural character we arranged for a quality pre-varnish to be applied on the oak staircase and balustrade by a local partner business – Meadow Mill wood finishers.
A holiday to remember
Now open and available for bookings, Greystead Institute is the perfect location for guests looking to trek the wilds of Northumbria National Park or to simply cosy up and relax by the woodburning stove. Everything within the property has been completed with care and attention to detail, creating a luxurious experience. Our staircase sits at the heart of all of this, reflecting and amplifying the cottage’s beauty.
“The quality of the staircase and balustrade is superb, and everyone who has seen it has been hugely impressed, including our first guests to the Institute” Anne added. “Several visitors to our other two holiday properties who saw the staircase/balustrade before the project was even finished, decided to book Greystead Institute on the strength of how fabulous it looked. We always saw the spiral staircase as the central feature of the conversion, and so it is!
I would recommend BSC as the first port of call for anyone looking for a quality spiral staircase. We also feel that the price was highly competitive for a staircase of this quality.”
If you are interested in a bespoke, high quality staircase for your own property, take a look at our gallery where you can find examples of some of the designs we can produce then submit a quote request or get in touch via phone or email and we’ll happily find the ideal match for you and your home.