Chapel Conversion in Barcombe

Project Details

Location: Barcombe, East Sussex
Local Authority: Lewes District Council
Size: 163 m2 (Existing 72 m2)
Completed: 2021


Winner of 2021 Small Scale Residential Award - Sussex Heritage Trust

“The building was a delight to behold and the owners had worked hard to retain the essence of the building and had succeeded.  The materials used were of high quality and the detailing had been carefully thought through.  A great asset has been preserved for future generations – a very worthwhile project and worthy award winner.” 

Judges of the Sussex Heritage Award 2021

The complete renovation and extension of an ex-mission hall and chapel to create a new dwelling to modern standards, whilst respecting the heritage and form of the original building.

The Tin Tabernacle was a timber framed, redundant former mission hall building with corrugated metal cladding making it a landmark building in the Balcombe area.  Since it’s use as a mission hall and chapel, the building had been in use as a meeting hall, office and workshop (Class B1). The site had become economically unsustainable; with running costs and long overdue maintenance outstripping income recovered from rent. The structure and character of the site was considered to have local interest but required a realistic use to secure its future.

DJD were appointed to secure planning permission for conversion of the Tin Tabernacle near Lewes into a residential dwelling.  Various options were considered, with site constraints informing a single storey extension to the rear. The extension creates bedroom accommodation with garden room linking space, allowing the main hall to be retained as the feature of the site as an open plan kitchen/ living/ dining space, ensuring the integrity of the original open church space is kept. This approach secured the support of Lewes District Council and planning permission was granted.

The property was subsequently sold with planning permission and we assisted the self-builder in managing the build process and site constraints.  Materials were selected to ensure longevity and maintain the integrity of the original structure.  The existing exterior walls and roof were restored with new insulation, lining and powder coated corrugated steel to retain the building’s unique character.  The extension was clad in cedar with an extensive green roof.  Energy saving measures were incorporated.

Photographs taken by Richard Warburton, RooPhoto

Further Information

The Barcombe Tabernacle was fabricated at Old Kent Road in London and transported to the current site circa 1885. Tin Tabernacles were designed as temporary structures to supplement large population movements in the late C19 to rural areas. It is understood that the notion was born by the Anglican Church to provide places of worship to the new rural communities, with a view to erecting more traditional structures as communities grew.




All of our projects are bespoke, and are designed in response to our client’s aspirations and brief, the surrounding context and environment. We work with all types of client including homeowners, self-builders, developers, commercial businesses, parish councils, community groups and local authorities.