2017 Independent Surveyor's Valuation: £750,000 - £875,000
3-4 BED · 3 BATHS · BELLTOWER WITH 8 BELLS · 2 STUDIES · EXTENSIVE GARDEN · A SOUGHT-AFTER, CRIME-FREE COUNTRY LOCATION
Interview by Jed Thomas
When strategic consultant Cheryl-Anne Jenkinson--now turned thriller writer and surveillance contractor--bought this Peak National Park Edwardian stone chapel in 2004, she hardly imagined she'd end up offering it as the ultimate prize in a £6-a-ticket giveaway.
This is one of the world's best spaces in which to live or retain a holiday home, yet Cheryl-Anne--known as Annie--has already had three months of pulling out all the stops, to give away the incredible house in a public prize competition. And it ends soon, she says.
Some would call it a raffle, but Jenkinson insists we use correct terminology. "It's a legal propriety thing," she explains. "A raffle would not be legal; a prize competition is, and I've worked hard to ensure this meets the criteria to be a legitimate competition."
The competition stops taking entries on April 1st, 2018, unless there are insufficient funds to repay the mortgage. In that case, it would extend to no later than 1st July, using its 90-day breather clause in the Terms. Jenkinson explains that the breather clause is essential because otherwise, a promoter cannot give away a house if there's an outstanding loan!
ABOUT SWYTHAMLEY CHAPEL
The plot started out as the site of a medieval hunting lodge with a provenance going back to the 1500s. In later centuries, with past ownership allied to Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1908 'Nimrod' South Pole expedition, the house stands out. Historical events are immortalised in magnificent stained glass panels. The house boasts the only "eight-bell ringing machine" in the country--the mechanism that drives the ring of eight bells in the castellated belltower above the second study.
Jenkinson is a fan of metal detecting and has found many artefacts and coins in and around the garden, and there's more to be dug up. "But I will leave that to the new owner," she adds, intriguingly. Could there be a buried treasure chest? One has been mentioned in the diaries of one of Swythamley's former residents, and a substantial gold hoard was discovered just down the lane, in Wincle. "Let's say I found the lid of something metal with a handle on! And it's still there. And I know where there's a second, not on my land! And no, they weren't put there by the electricity board!" she laughs.
Nestled in the sumptuous greenery of a true English hamlet, and without neighbours, this region of is protected and unspoiled. With or without the lure of buried treasure, the Chapel's a rare find in today's got-to-be-oh-so-careful society.
The neighbours are sheep, cows, hooting owls, and a handful of deer.
People can leave cars and doors unlocked, and neighbours rally to help if someone needs a hand. Children are safe playing outdoors, and "rush hour" is a handful of cars.
"I was once dubbed the one-woman crimewave of Swythamley," Jenkinson claims. "I advertised a trough on Ebay. Some guy from far away viewed it and said it wasn't what he was after. For some instinctive reason, I took down his vehicle VRN. That night, the trough disappeared and I called the local police who had nothing to do. They rang the Ebay enquirer and before the constable had said more than a few words, the man spat out: 'It was me! I'll pay for it!' "
And that was the sole "crime" to occur in the environs in 15 years, to Jenkinson's knowledge.
Despite the idyllic, peaceful surroundings, you can be in Manchester city centre in under an hour by car, or at Manchester Airport in 40 minutes. Super-fast trains cover the Macclesfield-London route in around 1 hour 40 minutes, and many commuters make this daily journey.
The property has many grand features you wouldn't expect in a conventional residence, yet works as an affordable place to live.
The owner says, "It's spacious, yet not one of those expensive, sprawling country houses. You can live here realistically."
Jenkinson explains how every visitor comments on the beauty and uniqueness of the house. "You get used to the fact that everyone coming to the door says how lucky you are," she says. She smiles, and adds, "I get a bit irritated by that. It isn't 'luck' that gives you a house like Swythamley Chapel. It's blood, sweat and tears. Literally."
Jenkinson concedes that Lady Luck will play her hand, though, when the winner is chosen. "Okay. So next time, it's going to be luck!"
Breathtaking stained-glass windows dominate many rooms, while the vast steel staircase climbing to the castellated belltower underlines the property's scale and grandeur. The master bedroom is split into three, enjoying a spacious bed area with stunning original beams and characterful dormer windows. From there, proceed to the stylish and roomy, upper sitting area leading to the dressing room with 'his and hers' integral Siematic wardrobes. The eye is drawn to the Gothic arched, stained glass window at the end and glass panel flooring where lights shine up from the kitchen beneath.
Jenkinson hit on the idea of making a series of music videos at the house, to show the amazing church acoustics; a Facebook shout-out brought artists from all over the world. Indeed, many beautifully-shot mini-films in and around the chapel already feature on the competition website and on a special Youtube channel.
The house also enjoys a separate basement studio suite channelled into the earth, accessed via stairs from the entrance foyer. This suite is locked off from the main house and has its own garden and private external door, making it a superb flat for privacy-seeking teenagers or use as a "granny flat".
WHY A PRIZE COMPETITION?
In latter years, a series of personal disasters saw the homeowner lose all her family, fall on hard times financially through the unexpected death of a business mentor and partner --who died literally pen-poised over the shareholders' agreement that would have secured her financial future-- and suffer ill health. It's been a never-ending catalogue of crises few could survive, let alone come out so upbeat.
Swythamley Chapel is sadly no longer in line with its owner's goals.
"For a winner allied to the U.K., wow, it's an incredible way of life. Stressless, easy, tranquil. There's a natural lure for the self-employed, as well as those who are retired or want to escape their daily stresses. Come through the door, and the pressure falls away. But I need to relocate!"
She further explains that she ended up running a competition after a series of fall-through sales. "Nobody ever quibbled on price," she says. "They were great at making asking price offers, but less great at getting hold of the cash! And how long do I wait? My life's on hold."
Jenkinson feels country houses need a global market, a fact supported by offers from affluent overseas buyers since launching the competition. "Nobody knows Swythamley exists. Rightmove and estate agency searches make you start with a location. Some might like to find a great country house and relocate for it... but you can't search without location!"
Would she not just sell it to one of these buyers, then, and give the entrants their money back?
"No, that's disloyal. If I only break even, fine. The entrants invested in me and I have to make it happen. And the entrants are a phenomenal support, not only for now, but hopefully for the next venture."
THE WINNER'S GAINS
So, if you win it, are you taking on a massive liability? Well, no.
The winner gains the house mortgage-free. It's also more than proved its ability to generate an income via property website, Airbnb.
"If someone advertised it again, they could have guests by tomorrow night. It moves that fast, really. Most leave it spotless, and I don't even cater for them. They check themselves in and out."
Jenkinson has also assembled all the facts on the website, for entrants to learn the costs of running Swythamley Chapel. "The owner can cover all bills by letting the house on Airbnb one weekend a month. It brings at least £30,000 a year, just from weekends," Jenkinson says. "More than 500 groups stayed, and it has 5* reviews from all over the world. Let it full-time, and the income would be over £100,000 a year from the main house, and £30-40,000 from the granny flat."
The "granny flat" is the basement studio room, en-suite, with its own garden and private access. Or, of course, the new homeowner could live in the studio room while guests stay in the main house; both are self-contained.
Ticket sales "took off like a rocket", says Jenkinson. "I've had to slow things down and cease advertising for a while because, frankly, the British banks are not set up to cope with fast-selling sales!
"The banks and funds processors aren't used to the pace and innovative nature of house competitions but in a few years, I believe this will be a mainstream way to sell. Many country house owners are having the same problems and this drives the current glut of competitions.
"We're over halfway through now, in February 2018, and if the banks hadn't stuffed up in typical fashion and managed to erroneously bounce back £300k of revenues in the first two months, I'd have banked enough to do the draw early! Money never even got banked, and it just ended up back with the entrants! All sorted now, thankfully, and payment systems are a tad smoother! I'm satisfied it's going ahead, but I have to work all the harder to make those deficits up. But it has to happen, to save my own sanity!"
What about the worst-case scenario: that Jenkinson doesn't sell enough tickets to give away the house, if the mortgage sum isn't accrued?
"It's in the Terms & Conditions," she explains. "I'd have the competition audited and give away to one winner the accrued cash less the spent marketing costs. There would be no gain for me; some promoters retain a %, but I wouldn't. I'm already planning a new business to develop competitions into a part-charitable venture. I'd use that to leverage a recovery, rather than hanging onto entrants' funds!"
A SECOND PRIZE - BMW X5 SUV
This innovative promoter came up with a second competition--a humdinger. She purchased a used, outstanding condition BMW X5 40D M-Sport SUV, and is selling 1,000 limited, numbered and named tickets, at £62.50 each.
Vehicle ticket sales were so fast that she ceased advertising to "avoid the bank's panic," she says, laughing loudly. Within 24 hours, she had banked almost £9,000, then gave it a rest for a few weeks. BMW ticket sales re-start from February 5th, 2018.
The BMW X5 draw is scheduled for mid-April, and will not be extended. At present, just 160 tickets have been sold; a count-up on the website keeps a public tally, and unless Jenkinson clears the sale of the other 840 tickets inside eight weeks, the odds are insanely good. (Googling around, I have not managed to find any vehicle competitions with even stated odds, let alone odds as good as this.)
THE HOUSE DRAW
The draw for Swythamley Chapel will happen when 100,000 tickets at £6 have been sold. "We will have a month after the close, when I'll clean the database. If we have 100,000 valid entries, the numbers will be put into random number generator software, managed by an independent party," Jenkinson says.
A solicitor or accountant unrelated to the draw will undertake the selection of the winning ticket, something the promoter doesn't want to do herself.
Jenkinson will check the database to see who holds that magical winning number--under third-party watchful gaze. It struck me this is the tricky bit. As in the National Lottery, there's no knowing if the winner would want to be named. What's the protocol?
"Well, there's no protocol!" she laughs. "There's Data Protection. Entrants in other competitions have passed judgement on winners. So, while I'd like to think entrants see the importance of revealing their identities, if someone doesn't want to, nobody can force them. But I'd like many entrants to be at the event to see it's done fairly."
And what about the draw itself?
"We'll probably do it at a hotel," she continues. "I'm setting up ticket sales to those who'd like to come. Without the trust of the entrants, let's face it, none of this would be possible.."
TICKETS & OFFERS
Tickets to win Swythamley Chapel are on sale for a further two months, with an estimated closing date of 1st April, 2018.
"I really don't want to extend beyond that," she says. "For one thing, running this is a full-time job."
"This paves the way for charitable projects -- again based around competitions -- when my new company really gets going, after I've left Swythamley Chapel."
THE MOST POPULAR TICKET BUNDLES
OFFER 1) £100 for 22 House Tickets (5 FREE) + Bonus chance to win £1,000
"Entrants' names are published. After selling 300 bundles, a winner is chosen by random number generator. If you don't win the £1,000, this bundle puts you in the top 1% of ticket holders so you have amazing odds."
OFFER 2) £60 for 14 house tickets (4 FREE)
OFFER 3) £62.50 for 1 BMW X5 Mini-Competition Ticket + 3 House Tickets. LIMITED TO 1,000 MAX. TICKET SALES
"Despite the ticket price, as there's a 1: 1,000 chance to win this stunning car, people aren't hesitating to buy!"
OFFER 4) £155: One BMW X5 Ticket + 28 House Tickets (top 1% of buyers) + Two 1: 300 chances to win £1,000
This bundle is the most popular, giving a £57.50 saving over buying tickets at regular prices. One in 300 wins £1,000.
ENTER THE COMPETITION
Entering is in two stages. Pay the entry fees for chosen tickets, then submit a house Entry Form.
The BMW has a separate Entry Form to fulfill gambling legislation, and each form contains one qualifying question everyone must answer, for the same reason.
"A qualifier is essential," Jenkinson explains. "By law, this makes the event a prize competition and not a game of chance, which would be an illegal lottery. I don't want one of those!"
With 9,000 Facebook fans, an unusually high level of engagement on the page and, seemingly, nobody with anything bad to say, in a climate where promoters are often publicly attacked--this Promoter is onto a winner.
WHAT TO LOOK AT:
The website is at www.yourcountrychurch.com
See the house promotional videos, here on Youtube.