In a sleepy woodland in the heart of Wyre Forest in North Worcestershire, a house carved from ancient rock has been transformed into a modern, light and airy retreat.
The Rockhouse, as featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, was inhabited in the past has recently be given a new lease of life by Angelo Mastropietro who visited the site as a young boy and was motivated to transform the dwelling when he saw it come onto the market in 2010.
“My family comes from Italy where there is a tradition of cave dwellings and ironically our surname Mastropietro translates into ‘Master of the stone’. I was not particularly daunted by the idea of carving a home out of rock – I felt emotionally attached to the project from the start.”
Angelo bought the 2.5 acre site for £62,000 and submitted a planning application to Wyre Forest District Council in March 2014 to turn the derelict cave dwelling into a one bedroom retreat. Planning Officer, Emma Anning took on this case and was instrumental in bringing this project fruition along with colleagues from Water Management and the Ranger service.
The application was approved following various ecological and biodiversity surveys to ensure surroundings were not affected. More than 70 tonnes of rock was excavated from the stone to provide space to make a home suited for the 21st century. The project took just 8 months to complete. Work on the external rock face was kept to a minimum to sustain the natural look and the windows were all handmade in oak.
“The work was a labour of love and I was determined to transform this forgotten cave into something special. It is estimated that the cave is over 250 million years old and I think we can safely say it will outlive many of the new homes being built today!”
Wyre Forest District Council’s Senior Development Control Officer, Emma Anning said:
"It is always good to work on something that isn’t quite ‘the norm’ and this certainly wasn’t that. This was my first cave house so assessing the merits of the proposal against the development plan was a new challenge."
Special features in the Rockhouse include a unique pebbled shower cave carved out by Angelo himself and fossilised timber sinks in the toilet and shower room adjoined by an archway which took 11 days to carve out of the sandstone.
Lighting is very important both for practical purposes and to retain a feeling of coziness – Angelo was keen to retain the spirit of the cave. Angelo’s vision for the project was to create a peaceful haven and bring new life to a dwelling that fallen into disrepair.
Councillor John Campion, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration said:
“This is an unusual and innovative example of redevelopment and it is inspiring to see how the vision of an individual can be bought to life supported by the professional expertise of council officers as well as partner services. We congratulate Angelo on his achievement and wish him the best of luck with future development projects.”
The work was completed in 8 months and more people can enjoy the cave which is now available as a holiday retreat. See www.therockhouseretreat.co.uk for more information.
The 'Rockhouse' was featured on Channel 4 Grand Designs, on Wednesday 30 September 2015.
Picture shows: Wyre Forest District Council's Senior Development Control Officer, Emma Anning and Angelo Mastropietro, the owner and creator of the Rockhouse.