Charlotte Church on the dream renovation that almost made her lose her mind
She may have found stardom as a singer, but Charlotte Church is embarking on an altogether more daunting project.
The Welsh singer-songwriter, 36, who rose to fame as an operatic singer in 1997 at the age of 11 before later finding success as a pop star, is taking a derelict Welsh country house, Rhydoldog – once owned by Laura Ashley – and turning it into a business venture.
Church is hoping to renovate the seven bedroom property and transform it into a healing retreat, but is her path from singer to property renovator going to be a smooth one?
“It was never in my plan to buy something like Rhydoldog. I was looking for a field so I could start a glamping business,” says Church. “As soon as I saw it, I fell madly in love – it was an obsessional relationship for a while. It didn’t then take long to build the vision – literally every second I spent away from the place, I was thinking about it constantly.
“It was something about the waterfalls that felt so deeply peaceful and cleansing. That’s when I started thinking about a retreat centre, and then everything just started falling into place from there.
Church bought the property two years ago and has been engaged in the renovation project ever since.
“My hope, if I get planning permission, is to make it a retreat centre, which is focused on nature connections, sound healing and ceremony.
“One of my big plans for it is that it’s affordable, or at least to have some options which are very affordable for people.”
In series one, we saw the star getting very hand-on: “I’ve had to turn my hand to a million different things and I’ve also had to keep it all in my mind, which has almost broken my mind at different points. Especially having a young baby, trying to balance my family life and my other work commitments – it’s really been a lot.
“One of the things it has really taught me is that we all need to figure out how to have a much healthier work-life balance!”
Her family have been a huge support, she says. “Particularly my dad – if it didn’t make financial sense, he would question me more and ask me to reflect. He really was that sounding board and kept me honest, I suppose.
“It has been quite stressful. But in a way, I’m only experiencing what everybody else experiences. I’ve always been in an incredibly privileged position, where I’ve not had to worry about money. And so now, I have to worry about money! It’s all about perspective.
“Whilst it has been risky, really nerve-racking and very stressful in making myself so vulnerable financially, I also know now that it’s going to work, because we’ve had thousands of people getting in touch who really want to come and stay.”
Charlotte Church’s Dream Build airs from 9pm on Wednesday, October 5 on Really and discovery+