An extraordinary Grade II listed 14-storey tower – now a distinctly eccentric four-bedroom home – with some epic views over the New Forest and The Solent to the Isle of Wight, has come to market with a £2m+ asking price.
Sway Tower (aka Peterson’s Folly) has been described as “Hampshire’s finest folly”, and, at 216 feet, holds the record for being the world’s tallest non-reinforced concrete structure. Built in 1879 by Yorkshireman Judge Andrew Peterson, the tower is the centrepiece of the Arnewood Estate in Sway, Hampshire and is quite the local landmark, visible across much of the New Forest. It’s so visible, in fact, that Trinity House forbade Peterson to install electric lights or illuminated clock faces at the top of the tower, as it might have caused danger to shipping in the Solent.
Peterson made his fortune in India – there are some obvious design references to this in the building – and ordered the folly to be built in order to provide employment for local workers (it provided work for 40 builders, who were paid significantly above the going rate, over five years) when he returned to England. It’s said that Peterson – a spiritualist – used a medium to consult Sir Christopher Wren, who it turns out was mad on concrete, throughout the design process.
The 5.5-metre square tower is set within a walled garden and houses 14 rooms covering some 4,700 square feet, connected by a spiral staircase of nearly 330 steps set in an octagonal staircase. The first five floors were converted in 1990 and today the tower contains four en suite bedrooms, as well as two reception rooms on the crucifix-shaped ground floor, a 60-foot indoor swimming pool, several outbuildings, a garaging complex and a tennis court. The top three floors are let out to telecoms providers, so there are some less-than-glorious antennas dotted around, but that does bring in a handy £34,000 income each year.
John D Wood has bagged the instruction.