ST JOHNS AND THE POPP FAMILY
Johann and Sarah Popp purchased St Johns in July 2003 and moved in with their children Anja and Jürgen and nephew Dean, at that time the house had been empty for a year and prior to that had been a preparatory school (St Johns) for fifty years.
The intention was to finance such an extravagant purchase by opening the house for bed and breakfast. Johann had already developed a passion for renovating Georgian and Victorian houses using traditional methods and the plan was to be open for business within two years. Within two days of purchasing the property it was clear it needed complete new drains, new roof, and replacement of the parapet wall, which was about to collapse on pedestrians. The rain harvesting system on the top floor was a series of six tin dustbins that had to be manually emptied.
For the first two years the family had to use the girl’s toilets (one cubicle of which had been turned into a shower) as the only bathroom in the house. What a change to St Johns today! The main house has four bathrooms with another four being constructed as you read this!
The renovation of the house has been entirely faithful to its original construction. Any alterations have used modern materials to show the evolution of the house for future generations. The house is listed grade II* and has been listed since 1952. Unusual for a house of this age is the fact that it has many of its original features – whether it’s the butler’s pantry (now reception), the servant’s bell pulls and staircases or the larder with the original pegs for hanging game.