Mad About . . .

The Househunter: Would it be folly to buy this?

10th July 2020
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Worrabout this then? A 218ft tall concrete Victorian folly with its own tennis court and swimming pool is for sale for £2.5m with four bedrooms arranged over 14 floors. And no lift. It’s on the market with the St Quintin Property Group via Rightmove. Who’s coming for a look round?

Sway Tower has belonged to Peter Atlas since 1973 when he bought it for £2650 when it was completely dilapidated. His first job was to remove 18 tonnes of bird droppings. At first he lived nearby while working renovations and repairs as he wanted to run it as a hotel. Eventually he moved in in the mid 90s and it has been run as a part time bed and breakfast ever since.

The agent says that with some more renovations and marketing it could become the “thriving business that the current owners have avoided due to retiring years”.

The building is also known as Peterson’s Folly; it was built in the 1800s by spiritualist Andrew Thomas Turton Peterson and is the largest non-reinforced concrete structure in the UK. It was built between 1897 and 1885 by 45 people and in today’s money, the project would have cost him £3.5 million.

There are 330 steps to the top and it is now Grade II* listed – which means you would be limited as to the changes you could make to it. But that’s not as bad as it sounds as there is a bedroom and ensuite bathroom on floors 1-4 so you don’t have to climb all the way up and down unless you are going for the view.

You can read the history of the building and find out more about why it was built in concrete here. But what is also worth knowing is that it comes with an income of £35,000 a year from telecommunications as it is used by the emergency services and two mobile phone providers.

Mr Atlas, who raised his two children here, has tried to sell the folly before and now says that if he gets the right offer he will part with it. He added also said that you could carry on adding bedrooms beyond the fourth floor if you wanted to return to the hotel idea.

So I’ll leave you with that for the weekend. Do let’s chat about your views. I was right that last week’s house would be polarising, this I imagine will be less so. There is something weirdly tempting and romantic about it no?



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  • Vanessa 14th July 2020 at 1:18 am

    How fabulously insane! i love it.

  • Jodie 10th July 2020 at 10:48 pm

    It is incredible and fascinating. I agree with others, it would be great to see renovated but if I had that kind of money to spend on a house….that wouldn’t be close to the top of my list.

  • hng23 10th July 2020 at 10:13 pm

    So much potential! Those arches are making me swoony! That fireplace! (Although the first thing I would do is rip out that spectacularly unsuitable stove.) I would approach the reno the same way as a church conversion: keep the historical details for sure & make the space open, light & spare but still luxurious (it can be done). If only I lived in England & had scads of money. Sigh…

  • Barbara Jenkins 10th July 2020 at 12:55 pm

    So often I’d like to know WHERE the property you describe but you don’t say! Perhaps you’ve agreed with the estate agent but it’s quite irritating…

    • Danielle Restivo 10th July 2020 at 1:17 pm

      Click the listing links…

    • Molly 10th July 2020 at 1:22 pm

      If you follow the link in each post you will see the full sales listing …

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 12th July 2020 at 12:09 pm

      I always link to the website it came from so you can see more details there.

  • Leslie-Anne 10th July 2020 at 12:20 pm

    I agree with Jade – not romantic or tempting at all.

  • Rach with an E 10th July 2020 at 10:15 am

    I wouldn’t move anywhere with a mobile phone mast attached to it. Some lovely rooms but not for me though I can see the potential as an hotel.

  • Elizabeth 10th July 2020 at 9:28 am

    I love it and cannot wait to see the renovated article. Perhaps the owners of El Fenn Marrakech could take it on?

  • Jade 10th July 2020 at 9:05 am

    Wow, this is incredible! I can’t believe it was a fam8y home. What does non-reinforced concrete mean? I think I’d be terrified in strong winds. But is that a upvc conservatory attached to it? I don’t find it romantic or tempting at all, I find it a bit creepy and sinister. It reminds me of a villain’s tower from a comicbook.

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