THREE Cockenzie cottages which were once the site of a murder have been chosen to appear on the BBC series Scotland’s Home of The Year.

Hannah and John Biddulph bought the three cottages, on the western end of the village’s High Street, in 2016 and moved in after six months of extensive renovations, which saw the three homes turned into one for themselves and son Samson, now seven.

Hannah, who works as fundraising and marketing manager for social enterprise Heavy Sound and also runs their holiday cottage, Boatshore by the Sea, next door, entered their home into the TV show’s contest as a fan of the format.

She said: “I’m addicted to anything remotely like Homes Under The Hammer, property development shows, anything like that. My husband and I have done up other houses in the past, but just as a home, as a project, then sold them and moved on to the next one. This is our third one.”

Jonah Cottage exterior

Jonah Cottage exterior

The refurbishment project, aided by a family friend who is a builder, was “massive”, according to Hannah.

She said: “The cottages had been lying derelict for a few decades and they were uninhabitable; there was water coming through the roof, there was dry rot, the house was absolutely riddled with damp, it had woodworm, it needed replumbed, it needed rewired.

“It had an outside toilet – we didn’t notice when we viewed it but, when we bought the house, there was still a really old roll of toilet paper hanging on the wall!”

The cottages were also once the site of a murder.

Hannah said: “The oldest part of this building dates back to 1690. There’s a lot of history. There was a body found in our cellar in the ’50s.

“It’s really cool because the cellar is underneath my house and behind our holiday cottage, so very interesting for people who want to come and stay – it’s creepy and cool.”

After Hannah saw social media posts about Scotland’s Home of the Year, the show’s third series, she sent photos of her home to the programme producers, who contacted her during the first lockdown last year to say they were interested – but that nothing could be done until after lockdown.

Kitchen before

Kitchen before

Hannah said: “They came out in July and took lots of photos; they were really interested and asked lots of questions and had a good look around.”

The programme’s producers viewed 15 houses in Edinburgh, the Lothians and southern Fife.

Hannah, 40, told the Courier: “There are nine areas and I totally wrote it off at that point. I’ve watched the show before and some of the houses are unbelievable.”

But Jonah Cottage made the show, and an entire production team descended on the family home last September to film the programme.

But Hannah and John were not allowed to meet the presenter judges, architect Michael Angus, interior designer Anna Campbell-Jones and lifestyle blogger Kate Spiers.

Hannah and John Biddulph with son Samson

Hannah and John Biddulph with son Samson

Hannah, who is originally from Haddington, said: “You have to leave your house, with all these people in it and the judges coming, and you don’t get to meet them, and it’s so frustrating because I love them!

“But they can’t like you – or dislike you – as that would sway them.”

And even Hannah doesn’t know the results of the competition.

She said: “I don’t know the results. When it was filmed they didn’t really want us to talk about it. They don’t want people to know, obviously. They want it to be all fresh and new when the series comes out.”

The series starts on Wednesday on BBC Scotland at 7pm.