West Sussex water tower conversion could be the strangest in Britain:for sale for £1.35m

An external staircase is the only way to reach the bedroom - and stunning observatory room - in this £1.35m folly...

Follies by nature make unusual homes, but this is one of the strangest in Britain because its staircase is not on the inside but instead curves around the outside like a helter-skelter slide.

Built as an ornamental water tower, the four-storey concrete building is topped with a copper-clad octagonal observatory with windows on all sides offering stunning views of the surrounding West Sussex countryside.

At the base of the tower is a 16ft diameter kitchen/family room, with a shower room built under the staircase.

A short climb up the staircase stands a bedroom with a Juliet balcony on the first floor, while there is an empty room on the third floor where the original water tank was sited - this could provide more accommodation, subject to consent.

Finally, on the third floor is the tower's crowning glory, the observatory, which could provide the perfect place to put a telescope and enjoy the night sky over light pollution-free countryside or just a daytime retreat with stunning naked-eye views over the North and South Downs.

This beautiful tower home is situated in a peaceful, very private, rural location a mile or so to the north of the South Downs

A single storey timber-clad cottage in the 3.25-acre grounds provides additional living accommodation and includes a sitting room, kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom.

The garden also includes a paddock and a pond.

The grade II-listed Water Tower in Steyning was built by Maxwell Ayrton, whose most famous work was the Empire Stadium at Wembley in 1923 for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-25. Later renamed Wembley Stadium, it stood until 2003 when it was demolished to make way for the new stadium.

Coincidentally, the Empire Stadium was built on the site of a former folly, Watkin's Folly, an iron latticework tower meant to be Britain's answer to the Eiffel Tower at 1,175ft - beating the Paris attraction at 1,063ft and even today's Shard, at a measly 1,016ft.

However, by 1895, when the tower was just 154ft high, work stopped because of lack of money and poor foundations and it was demolished in 1907.

The Watkins Folly might have inspired Ayrton, for a few years later he embarked on the Water Tower on the Wappingthorn Estate for Sir Arthur Howard, and it was completed in 1930.

In 2002, planning consent was granted for an extension but this has since lapsed and would need to be renewed.

The Water Tower is 1.5 miles from the market town of Steyning, while Brighton is just 10 miles away, with trains to London taking less an hour. 

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