Over time, Paul Oxborrow and Stephen Groves have succeeded in buying each floor of a grand nineteenth century St. Leonards house. Staying true to the period of its construction, Paul and Stephen have completely refurbished its four floors and now run several rooms of St. Benedict as an unusual and popular bed & breakfast. 

A glasshouse in the garden with stained glass windows

A glasshouse in the garden with stained glass windows

The garden is full of interest, just like the house

The garden is full of interest, just like the house

A fruit pergola leads down to the garden

A fruit pergola leads down to the garden

Enclosed with walls newly built from old bricks, which look as though they have always been there

Enclosed with walls newly built from old bricks, which look as though they have always been there

A pretty view through the glasshouse

A pretty view through the glasshouse

At the end of garden lies perhaps the most extraordinary element of this amazing home

At the end of garden lies perhaps the most extraordinary element of this amazing home

One of the garden's many religious references

One of the garden's many ornate references

At the rear of the garden, Paul and Stephen have built a tiny and exquisite chapel in the Orthodox style, where mass is sometimes said. With painted angels on a rich blue ground, a wealth of icons, censers, reliquaries and a central Madonna and Child, it’s so beautiful and surprising

At the rear of the garden, Paul and Stephen have built a tiny and exquisite chapel in the Orthodox style

A detail from the incredible little chapel

A detail from the incredible little chapel

Mass is sometimes said in the tiny chapel

Mass is sometimes said in the tiny chapel

With painted angels on a rich blue ground, a wealth of icons, censers, reliquaries and a central Madonna and Child, it’s so beautiful and surprising

With painted angels on a rich blue ground, a wealth of icons, censers, reliquaries and a central Madonna and Child, it’s so beautiful and surprising

This half of the drawing room, now resplendent with a grand piano – the house’s co-owner, Stephen Groves, is a pianist and church organist – was their kitchen

This half of the drawing room, now resplendent with a grand piano – the house’s co-owner, Stephen Groves, is a pianist and church organist – was their kitchen

Decorative bullion and tassels hang from the elaborate pelmets in the drawing room

Decorative bullion and tassels hang from the elaborate pelmets in the drawing room

The drawing room is a superb double salon with matching fireplaces at each end

Decorative bullion and tassels hang from the elaborate pelmets in the drawing room

Part of the St. Benedict experience is breakfast in the dining room just across the hall from the drawing room, resplendent with green and gold Watts of Westminster wallpaper and a crystal chandelier, served in silver chafing dishes in the English country house manner

Silver chafing dishes, used for serving breakfast, in the English country house manner

Part of the St. Benedict experience is breakfast in the dining room just across the hall from the drawing room, resplendent with green and gold Watts of Westminster wallpaper and a crystal chandelier, served in silver chafing dishes in the English country house manner

Part of the St. Benedict experience is breakfast in the dining room just across the hall from the drawing room

Part of the St. Benedict experience is breakfast in the dining room just across the hall from the drawing room, resplendent with green and gold Watts of Westminster wallpaper and a crystal chandelier, served in silver chafing dishes in the English country house manner

The dining room is resplendent with green and gold Watts of Westminster wallpaper and a crystal chandelier

In the large kitchen, ironed cotton sheets hang on wooden hoist and spindle airers

In the large kitchen, ironed cotton sheets hang on wooden hoist and spindle airers

The kitchen features delightful original details

The kitchen features delightful original details

A wireless sits on a shelf in the kitchen

A wireless sits on a shelf in the kitchen

A decorative birdcage hangs in the kitchen

A decorative birdcage hangs in the kitchen

Branching off the landing on the top floor of the house, the guest bedrooms have been furnished with enough bathrooms to satisfy the 21st century guest, without compromising the integrity of the house

Branching off the landing on the top floor of the house, the guest bedrooms have been furnished with enough bathrooms to satisfy the 21st century guest, without compromising the integrity of the house

The old water heater which is (thankfully) purely decorative

The old water heater which is (thankfully) purely decorative

The School Room, a twin-bedded room, with alphabet wallpaper, which can be booked for family parties

The School Room, a twin-bedded room, with alphabet wallpaper, which can be booked for family parties

A collection of chinaware is displayed in an ornate cabinet

A collection of chinaware is displayed in an ornate cabinet

In the music room there’s a rare glimpse of modern life, with a flat screen TV – concealed behind a painting, which is lowered to watch

In the music room there’s a rare glimpse of modern life, with a flat screen TV – concealed behind a painting, which is lowered to watch

The magnificent gilded organ, complete with a cherub, where Stephen practises for his church engagements

The magnificent gilded organ, complete with a cherub, where Stephen practises for his church engagements

the music room, a rather playful swerve back to 18th century baroque, with fauteuil chairs

The music room is a rather playful swerve back to 18th century baroque, complete with fauteuil chairs

Mr Parry’s Room features a magnificent four poster bed, lined with the prettiest chintz, from which you could sit and look out at a particularly special sea view

Mr Parry’s Room features a magnificent four poster bed, lined with the prettiest chintz

Mr Parry’s Room is the master suite, with an original adjoining dressing room

Mr Parry’s Room is the master suite, with an original adjoining dressing room

A corner cabinet in Mr Parry's dressing room opens to reveal more religious iconography

A corner cabinet in Mr Parry's dressing room opens to reveal more religious iconography

Mr Parry’s Room features a magnificent four poster bed, lined with the prettiest chintz, from which you could sit and look out at a particularly special sea view

A view through to Mr Parry's bedroom

It's possible to enjoy the sea view whilst sitting on Mr Parry's four-poster bed

It's possible to enjoy the sea view whilst sitting on the four-poster bed

The hall is clearly from another era, every detail in perfect keeping with the late 19th century period of the house, from the rich red wallpaper, polished mahogany furniture and Holophane-shade chandelier, to the taxidermy specimens under glass domes

The hall is clearly from another era, every detail in perfect keeping with the late 19th century period of the house, from the rich red wallpaper, polished mahogany furniture and Holophane-shade chandelier, to the taxidermy specimens under glass domes

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Helen Barton

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