An Essex man proved that romance is alive and well when he proposed to his partner by hanging a personalised message on the wall of their new home the day they moved in.

Matthew Ensor and his partner of four years, Sarah Shears, recently got the keys to their first property together, a four-bed Persimmon Homes new-build at the Saxon Gate development in Chelmsford.

And Sarah was left speechless when she walked into her empty new lounge for the first time to find a framed picture on the wall baring the words, “Sarah I love you, will you marry me?”

She turned around to find Matthew down on one knee.

“Sarah doesn’t normally like surprises but I wanted to do something special to celebrate moving into our new home and that next phase of life,” said Matthew. “This just felt right.

“I’d spoken to the deputy site manager at Saxon Gate and Jo, the sales advisor, and they’d agreed to help me with my plans.

“We were out shopping a little while ago and Sarah spotted some framed vintage playing cards each with a letter on them spelling out a phrase, so I had that adapted to make the proposal message.

“When she first saw it hanging on the wall there was a short silence before she turned and saw me on my knee. She said yes, which was a relief – and then told me off for putting holes in the wall!

“I was quite calm really because there was the excitement of moving in and the excitement of the proposal.”

Sarah, a solicitor, said: “It was hugely overwhelming, I really didn’t expect it. I was just chuffed to bits.

“He’s won huge Brownie points from all of our friends for being so romantic. He has certainly set the bar high!”

Matthew, 35, and Sarah, 34, had been renting a terraced house but decided the time was right to step onto the property ladder. They visited the Saxon Gate site in November and bought the property the very next day.

“It’s been great to watch the house being built,” said Matthew, who is the chief executive of the Student’s Union at University Campus Suffolk.

The pair are now planning to have an engagement ring made and they plan to wed in 2016.

Matthew said: “Having just bought our first home, we’ll have to start saving the pennies for the wedding, but we hope to set a date for some time in 2016.”