Top Of The Class – Our Maximalist Victorian Sunday School Conversion In Brixton

Picture of Simon Stone

Simon Stone

Martin and Roy talk about their gorgeous Victorian Sunday school conversion in South West London, just off the top of Brixton Hill.

“So, we arrived for the viewing early and had a peek through the window before the agent turned up. The place was a tip, with stuff falling off walls. When we eventually got in, we discovered about a foot of water in the basement, but we STILL loved it!”

View of the mews at this Victorian school conversion

Outside Rush Common Mews in Brixton.

Martin Iu and his husband Roy bought their home in Rush Common Mews, SW2, in 2004 after a meandering property journey that took them from Bermondsey via Vauxhall to search for their “forever home”.

Martin explains: “The house was a repossession, apparently owned by a member of So Solid Crew. They’d intended on building a property portfolio before things went, well, a little wrong from what I understand. Let’s just leave that there!”

This fabulous red brick building was constructed in 1878 and originally served as a Sunday school. The conversion in the 1990s transformed the main body into townhouses, with Martin and Roy snaring the largest of the crop.

“As a long-time fan of gothic spaces, this house offered me everything I’d wanted”, says Martin. “I was overwhelmed by just how authentic it was. So much of the gothic charm remained intact: no wonder it’s a Grade 2 listed building.”


Gothic glory – exposed brick arches and dark timber beams are paired with fresh white decor

Gothic architecture can be an intimidating style to try and bring to life. Mention the g-word in certain circles, and images of Dracula’s castle or a cold medieval banqueting hall spring to mind. But with the right eye for detail, you can extract the warmth of the old brickwork and dark wooden beams,  replacing any sense of foreboding with a fresh and beguiling style. And the result here is a long way from a typical Victorian school conversion.

The living room at a Victorian school conversion in Brixton

Lofty Ceiling Height In The Living Room

“The beauty of the space for me was its low-key nature”, Martin enthuses. “We had no desire to cover up the features or plaster over brickwork, so the theme was defined by how we dressed it. The look we settled on leaned towards maximalism. We added big furniture and lighting accessories along with some reclaimed salvage, none of which felt like it swamped the room. The ceiling height helped hugely when adding large pieces.”

A Place For Martin And Roys Collection Of Salvage.

“Every room has a use, and we’ve not wasted any space. What would have been a second bedroom has worked really well for Roy. He’s a photographer who specialises in the theatre, and we can now store all his equipment, both practical and digital, safely stored under one roof.”

Roys Work Space at Rush Common Mews

“More recently, we moved my mother in to look after her. We found the lower floor to be just perfect if you have a parent or older child who wants a semi-private, self-contained space.”

Any favourite room?
“I love the kitchen, but our rear terrace is an utter joy. It’s really easy to look after and has a certain Zen quality about it. We’ve used it particularly well this summer, even on the hottest days. I took shelter under the tree and just zoned out.”

Now with retirement looming and a yearning for the countryside to walk their two beautiful Husky dogs, it’s time to sell up. “I’m really going to miss the convenience of having everything on the doorstep,” says Martin. “Everything is just around the corner. We have off-street parking here but find we’re using the car less and less. We spend our downtime taking the dogs to Clapham via The Hood, a super coffee shop on Streatham Hill, and picking up produce from Abbeville Road. There’s also an excellent vet”.

Any thoughts on where you’ll head to yet?
“We’ve given this some serious thought, and it’s time for something with a sea view. We’ll look at anything really, from Cornwall to Camber. Our holidays over the last few years have been by the sea, and we’ve grown very fond of the lifestyle. So if any of your future clients have something unique with a coastal setting, please let us know!”


Would you like to know more about this Victorian school conversion?

To see for yourself why Martin & Roy’s home is so special, click here to view the full description, gallery and plans or to arrange a viewing.


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