Father Darren Collins could never hope to buy his sprawling part-Elizabethan, part- Victorian house in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
‘It was three cottages that were knocked into one in the 17th century; and then the Victorians added on a bit for servants’ quarters,’ he explains.
‘Most priests on a clergy salary would be unable to afford to live in a house like this, so I think: ‘For 400 years, people have sat here, and I feel privileged.’
Royal pedigree: Richard Devey lives and works at Gordonstoun, Prince Charles’s old school
The Church of England provides the five-bedroom house as part of Father Collins’s job as rector of St Etheldreda’s church. It is a ‘tied home’ – accommodation that comes with the job.
Father Collins has lived in the rectory, which sits beside the church, for five years with his wife, Lorraine, and their two children.
And while he counts himself lucky, there are definite downsides to such a venerable property.
‘It’s cold. It’s single-glazed and listed so you can’t do anything about that. You just have to sit and watch the curtains move with the wind.’
When that happens, he lights all three fires and turns on the radiators.
He also finds the knock on the door is not so much to do with his clerical duties but with more modern ones.
‘Before I was ordained, I was a plumber; so when I started, when people asked me to come to their house I thought I was going as a priest — but they actually just wanted me to fix their tap.’
According to Paul Handley, editor of the Church Times, tied accommodation is important for the Anglican church’s survival: ‘The Church of England is desperate to save or raise cash, and accommodation being part of the package is important in attracting clergy — especially in the expensive south-east.’
Because tied homes tend to be mostly in old industries, often in concerns that have been ongoing for centuries, they are frequently in attractive rural locations.
The country pub is a prime example. Jayne Barton runs the Crossroads Inn in the Yorkshire village of Wainstalls with her partner, Peter Conlin, and their three children.
They have lived in a three-bedroom flat above the pub for ten years and top of her list of advantages is the lack of a commute to the office.
‘I can just go down the stairs and I’m at work, no travelling,’ Jayne says. ‘And it’s an attractive building — typical Yorkshire stone with beautiful views.’
One of the fun things about the job is when TV and music stars pop in.
‘We have a lot of filming here — shows like Gentleman Jack and Last Tango In Halifax,’ says Jayne.
‘We also had Nick Lowe staying with his band because he was performing in Halifax. He was lovely.’
Did they perform in the pub? ‘No. I wish.’
Living above the shop you’re never off-duty. ‘When we have a week’s holiday we have to go away, if we stayed here, before you know it something’s happened and you’re involved.’
Nikkie Thatcher, news editor of the Morning Advertiser, the newspaper for the pub trade, agrees: ‘Providing accommodation is a perk. But while it can offer benefits such as being on hand to deal with any issues, operators could find they never ‘switch off’.’
Sometimes, the main job comes with a rather unusual one added on. Richard Devey is head of Senior School at Gordonstoun, perhaps best known as alma mater of Prince Charles.
Along with teaching PE and geography, Richard is also a retained firefighter in the school fire crew. ‘We have dealt with more than 200 callouts for cats stuck on roofs, flooding and heath fires over the 30 years I’ve been here,’ he says.
He has a three-bedroom flat in the school’s main building, where he lives with his wife, Joanne, PA to the principal. He adds: ‘I love living on-site. I really understand the pulse and rhythm of the school.’