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Monday 10 January 2022

Holy land! Ruined former church to become luxury accommodation

The team behind award-winning luxury accommodation Clifftop at Hepburn and Samurai Villas have taken on a new challenge: converting a derelict church to luxury accommodation.

David and Manolita Penman have purchased the once grand St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Daylesford and plan to pay respect to the church's history as they transform it into somewhere special to stay.

Time has not been kind to St Andrew’s. The buildings have been neglected and frequented by local youths for sex, drugs, alcohol and vandalism.

The dilapidated wooden Sunday School to the rear of the church was in a particularly ruined state and posed a genuine danger before its recent collapse in the storms.

The Council acted quickly to protect the community and issued an Emergency Demolition Order.

"With the Sunday School gone, it deeply saddens me that vandals turned their attention to destroying the historically and architecturally significant church itself," says David Penman.

" Virtually all of the stained glass windows have been smashed beyond salvage and some have even had their frames ripped from the wall. Doors have been torn from hinges and racist graffiti has been sprayed both inside and outside the church. Most lights fittings have been smashed and people have even been defecating in the Church.

"Time has wrought water leaks, rotting floors, mould and crumbling brickwork."

St Andrew’s (above, in its pomp) was notable for its stunning pipe organ, built by E. Cornwall Cook in 1904. One of only two surviving organs by Cook in Australia.

The restoration and renewal of the church is a significant and costly project that requires considerable financial resources and time.

The Penmans have plans in train, subject to council approval, convert the remains of the church into two luxury villas and build several townhouses to the rear.

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