Inside the New Forest's record-breaking residential tower:14-storey vertical home with indoor swimming pool was inspired by the ghost of Sir Christopher Wren

This 218ft-high tower built by an eccentric judge offers sea views - despite being four miles from the coast...

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A world record-breaking tower inspired by the ghost of Sir Christopher Wren has come on the market for the first time in nearly 50 years, with an asking price in excess of £2 million.

Grade II-listed Peterson's Folly is 216ft high, making it the tallest non-reinforced concrete building in the world, and its walls are up to two feet thick.

Completed in 1885 after five years, it was the brainchild of eccentric judge Andrew Peterson who, after making his fortune in India, retired to his estate in Sway, in the New Forest, and became an ardent spiritualist.

After extending his house, Arnewood Towers, from a small villa into a 40-room mansion, he wanted to continue to provide employment to local workers and decided to construct a folly, believing that the ghost of Wren - the architect of St Paul's Cathedral - told him during a seance exactly what to build.

Extending 14 storeys, the building is styled after the mud and cement towers Peterson had seen in India, and has stunning views across the New Forest, the Solent - four miles away - and even to the Isle of Wight.

The tower, which cost £30,000 to build - or £3.5 million in today's money - contains 14 large rooms, one on each floor, reached by an octagonal staircase of no less than 330 steps.

Peterson wasn't allowed to install electricity because the folly was so high that Trinity House, the charity still in charge today of Britain's lighthouses, said it would be a danger to shipping.

It also denied him permission to install a vast illuminated four-faced clock in the circular holes at the top of the tower - probably for the same reason. 

330 steps: The Tower contains 14 large rooms, one on each floor, reached by an octagonal staircase

Peterson did, however, get his wish of making the folly his last resting place and, after his death in 1906, his ashes were placed on a concrete table in the tower.

In 1990, the first five storeys were made fit for living in and now contain four en-suite bedrooms, and the habitable areas of the property cover 2,200 square feet.

The buildings at the base of the tower form a crucifix, providing two reception rooms, a 58ft indoor swimming pool, several outbuildings, a garage and a tennis court. The property is set in a walled lawned garden of nearly three quarters of an acre.

Hayley Kemish, sales manager of John D Wood & Co in Lymington, says: “This is a unique opportunity to acquire an iconic New Forest landmark that affords unsurpassed panoramic views."

Peterson's Folly is for sale through John D Wood for offers in excess of £2 million

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