Above: Angelo Mastropietro spent around 1,000 hours breaking, cutting and burrowing the rock to create a unique stone house in the Wyre Forest
The pressures of modern life mean that most of us have probably dreamed at one time or another of fleeing to the hills.
But real-life Fred Flintstone Angelo Mastropietro has made his hermit dream a reality – by spending over £160,000 turning a 250million-year-old cave into his dream home.
The ambitious makeover near the Worcestershire-Shropshire border captured the imagination of viewers when it was featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs in September.
The 38-year-old, originally from Worcestershire, was living a high-flying life as the head of a successful recruitment company in Australia when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007.
The condition led to him being temporarily paralysed – and inspired him to seek a simpler lifestyle.
- Character: The original cave is 250 million years old
- Dig it: Angelo sits in the stone bathtub
- Cosy: The living room
He said: “My life before I became a caveman was really quite different, like most people I had aspirations to work in a corporate world.
“I had a lapse that left me essentially paralysed, which was a catalyst to review where I was, where I was going and my lifestyle.”
The sandstone cliffs near the Wyre Forest are said to have inspired JRR Tolkien when he was writing Lord of the Rings.
- Carved: Wash basin in the Rockhouse’s bathroom
- Deep sleep: The bedroom
- Thick walls: A shot through a doorway into the Rockhouse bedroom
Despite his condition, Angelo spent around 1,000 hours breaking, cutting and burrowing the rock, excavating between 70 and 80 tons of rubble by hand.
He said: “I love a challenge. Coincidentally my surname actually means Master of the Stones, so maybe it’s in my blood.
“The rock house came along and without a shadow of a doubt I was as passionate about that as I was about setting up my company.”
And unlike classic cartoon character Fred Flintstone’s home, the finished Rockhouse’s features are anything but Stone Age – the cave features running water, underfloor heating and even wi-fi.
- Back to basics: There’s no passing traffic
- Rock star: Cartoon character Fred Flintstone mows the lawn outside his own stone house
- Changes: Angelo was inspired to seek a simpler lifestyle after a medical scare
All of the fresh running water comes from Angelo’s own bore hole, which he sank 80 metres into the ground.
And while the house is currently used as a holiday let, Angelo still harbours a dream of one day living in the cave full time.
He added: “I think when you’re actually here and you see it in person, you get a feel for the place.
“People have literally been in tears, so I feel incredibly happy, very proud, very honoured – it’s been a very inspiring chapter I think.”
- For more information on renting out the Rockhouse, visit http://www.therockhouseretreat.co.uk
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