Shropshire Star

Gallery: Dracup's Cottage soon to open in Bridgnorth

It may just be the most luxurious cave in England.

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Karolina Harte said it was curiosity that drove the couple to purchase the cottage

And now the former home of 60s artist Anthony Dracup could be the place to lay one's head as its new owners Karolina and Jason Harte open the cottage in Bridgnorth up to the public.

Having bought the property on Railway Street in 2019, the dexterous duo have since spent every spare minute perfecting the finest details of their latest venture, while capturing the bohemian lifestyle of its previous owner.

Mr Dracup, who moved into the house in the 80s, spent years carving out a sandstone cave at the back of the property and integrating it into the main building.

Anthony Dracup in 1991 during the excavation of the cave

The eccentric office worker-turned-artist built supporting archways from sand collected from the excavation of the cave, while plastering many of the walls with his own works of art.

Now, airline pilot Jason and mother of three Karolina, who live in Glazeley, are preparing to welcome their first guest when they open the home as a holiday let in April.

Karolina, 39, said an assertive focus was put on ensuring the spirit of Mr Dracup could be felt in every room.

Karolina Harte said it was curiosity that drove the couple to purchase the cottage

"It would be a crime to change it," she said.

"It's part of Bridgnorth's history and it has to be preserved."

While many of Mr Dracup's original artwork can be viewed from room to room, Bridgnorth's own heritage railway has also been used as inspiration, taking visitors on a journey through the cottage's unique interior.

Inspiration has been taken from the cottage's railway links

"We wanted to make each room have its own unique feel," said Karolina.

"What better way to do this than connect it with Railway Street and Severn Valley Railway, which is right across the road."

She added: "Despite how stunning it was, the whole place did need work.

"We thought it would be a quick lick of paint and a tidy, but everything we touched just turned into a massive job.

"The roof above the room that used to be outdoors was completely rotten and while we were replacing the skylight, my husband fell straight through it.

"We then had to do the whole roof area which was a massive task."

Some of the interior decoration at Dracup's Cottage

Karolina added that Jason, 51, had taken on much of the work himself.

"Another huge project was saving the windows," she said.

"Jason managed to do it all himself and I'm incredibly proud of what he's achieved."

Karolina Harte said it was curiosity that drove the couple to purchase the cottage

The renovation project undertaken in 2019 soon became a love affair for Karolina and Jason, who are still counting the costs.

"We stopped adding up the costs fairly quickly as we got so carried away," she said.

"But the biggest cost was time and effort. We have three lovely children and when we committed to buying the cottage I only just found out I was pregnant with our second child.

Some of the interior decoration at Dracup's Cottage

"As we became proud owners of this exceptional house which needed so much work, I had a nine-month-old daughter and soon to come, a little boy."

Mr Dracup's son, Dennis, is expected to visit the "Alice in Wonderland" experience and assist with a fitting external renovation later this year.

"Curiosity is what drove us to buy this place," Karolina added.

Dracup's Cottage, Bridgnorth

"It really is so unique and we're so glad to finally be able to open it up as government Covid guidelines allow."

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