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Step inside this cosy Christmas home

Author: Alice Roberton

Read time:

14th December 2023

Allie Hillam and Seth Mallock’s converted Victorian schoolhouse, filled with salvaged materials and antiques, has a personal sense of history and tradition which comes alive at Christmas. With jewel-like colours of emerald and ruby, Gothic windows, doorways and arched panelling, and an enchanting library, the place has an elegance which feels as ecclesiastical as it does scholastic.

Rambling yet cosy, inviting and magical, it’s the perfect home for a good old-fashioned family Christmas; annually hosting the Hillam and Mallock clans, they eat, drink, play games and make merry in the glow of candlelight and warmth of good company.

 

Tamsyn Morgans
Tamsyn Morgans

Trinity House not only packs a visual punch, it hits you with a wonderful atmosphere which has you wondering whether its school days have left more than an optical mark.

‘The history of the building is ever-present, and we’ve always felt it exudes a sense of joy due to having had children in it for so many years,’ says Allie. ‘I often think of all the children who have walked on the floorboards; some of the boards hold ink stains as a reminder. We love living close to the building’s history and it’s been such a delightful place to bring up our own children. We cherish being its custodians and each time we’ve added to it – like the time we hauled wood out of the church skip which Seth then used to panel the main bathroom – we’ve added our own layer of history.’

Tamsyn Morgans
Tamsyn Morgans

Painted in true red, the library is lined with old books, most of which have been inherited from family.

‘I adore antique books; I even love their musty smell!’ says Allie. ‘I get great pleasure from pulling one out, opening it up and seeing a familiar family name pencilled inside, sometimes with a Christmas message and a date, or occasionally a note indicating it was a school prize. Every room in our house has a family story attached: our kitchen table, which once resided in a laboratory at St Andrew’s University, was saved by Seth’s dad from a bonfire. It’s had Mallock family members sitting around it for decades.’

 

Tamsyn Morgan
Tamsyn Morgan

‘Rich colours complement antique furniture really well, and in the winter when the lamps and candles are lit and the fire is flickering away, everything feels very harmonious,’ says Allie. ‘I love the opulence of rich colour and how wonderfully it works for a laid table – it’s great to have an excuse at Christmas to use all my Victorian china in blues, greens and reds along with my silverware.

‘We’re a large family and the Christmas meal often has to be split between two or three tables throughout the snug, library and kitchen – with all the connecting doors open we can see each other, but we have to shout to be heard. It’s a riot! In 2008 we decided to share our home and opened as a bed and breakfast, switching to Airbnb in 2017. Visitors often comment that it feels like a Christmas house.’

Tamsyn Morgans
Tamsyn Morgans

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