INTRODUCTION The Millfields, is a secure gated community, which comprises of the site and historic buildings of the former Royal Naval hospital. Security is a real benefit enjoyed by those who reside here. High limestone walls surround the site, which has a single, amicably and dignified, controlled entrance, resulting in an entirely unique security climate! A number of communal areas are available to all residents within the development, including the square which is an expansive garden area surrounded by The Old Hospital and many of the former Mess buildings including the Captain's and Admiral
Situated at the far end of a unique gated community with un-paralleled security, The Water Tower offers a surprisingly secluded plot.
The Water Tower is an historic, Grade II* listed building and is thought to date from 1758-1764 and was at the time, one of the first of its type to be constructed. Under the watchful eye of the local conservation office, the property was painstakingly and lovingly restored to an extraordinarily high standard throughout, some nine years ago and converted into a bespoke residence with a surprisingly practical flow of accommodation. Many of the original materials have been retained, with the old limestone walls being in evidence through much of the accommodation, whilst the original lead lined, wooden water frame for the water tanks has been retained (now a useful and accessible store room) and is in fact below your feet as you wander around the viewing turret at the top of the tower, to sample the breath-taking views that include Drake's Island, Plymouth Sound and Mount Edgcumbe. The 360 degree views also take in the City and the fabulous Georgian architecture of the vicinity.
In many ways 'matters water' have dominated RNH Stonehouse from the outset and the City well before that. As South West Water comes to the end of the most extensive (and expensive) survey of our drains in history following their most welcome recent full adoption of the Georgian system, it is interesting to recall where it all began. Clean Water was the gold of its day, and is how a former Mayor of our City, (Sir Francis Drake no less!) helped to amass his fortune as a land owner, post his world travels, in the days of Elizabeth I and long before the concept of RNH was conceived. In those days he effectively 'cornered' the first public water supply bringing it off Dartmoor in a leat, or stone ditch, to supply the City which then consisted of three towns, Stonehouse, Plymouth, and Dock (now Devonport).
Of course, like today, this supply was not for free and it was a major engineering undertaking some 400 plus years ago and to provide it thereafter in a sustainable form, ensuring Plymouth's prosperity.
The leat divided into three, and the supply to Stonehouse ran along what is now North Road West over Eldad Hill and then through the Millfields and over to Durnford Street ending in a 'shoot' where washing was permitted. Licensed abstraction could take place up stream of this but no polluting of course and Water bailiffs patrolled constantly to prevent this.
The leat was the main reason for choosing to site RNH midway between the towns and additionally on its own inland half tide creek with a private harbour.
Sometime after the hospital became operational in the early 1760's, complaints were received from the Mayor of Stonehouse that the supply was being starved at certain times of day, therefore, the Navy were swiftly obliged to build a reservoir at the highest point of the site, in the form of a water tower, to buffer the demand peaks. This also provided a head of pressure so that the whole hospital could be supplied through pressured lead pipes. Very advanced indeed for its time!
The single, huge, lead-lined, octagonal tank at the top, with a staircase in the middle, was filled by a continuous leather bucket chain on the west side powered by a donkey walking around a windlass in a manger with a hole in its roof, which is now the drawing room.
Later the donkey was replaced by a steam engine and the buckets it drove and lifted, dipped into and out of the leat which still runs right beneath the house under the oak floor planks in the kitchen. The leat then goes on through to the main square and under the sundial and in some places a man can walk in its downstream tunnel. Indeed it was once used as an escape route by press ganged sailors who ended up somewhere near where Princess Yachts is now …. and got caught!!
The octagonal water tower was built by French prisoners from the seven years' war and is so beautifully constructed, with such amazingly precise masonry and quoins, that it is not out of the vertical at any point by more than half a centimetre in its 110 feet! The top gallery of the tower, was used as an air raid post in World War II (it proudly wears the shell and shrapnel scarring from three nights of strafing during the blitz. With many walls being 5 feet thick that clearly was not a problem!)
Outstanding features of the property include the hand built oak double splayed staircase that ascends from the drawing room, the vaulted and beamed ceiling in the living room, the garden room with its floor to ceiling tinted, glazed elevations on all sides that bring the manicured gardens into the home and the octagonal shaped rooms with their porthole windows and limestone walls. The sheer black high gloss kitchen is extremely striking and complimented by a wide range of integrated appliances, oak worktops and a central oak topped island unit. Contemporary sanitary ware has been used throughout the home, which boasts double glazed sealed unit windows and gas central heating. The rear of the ground floor could easily be arranged as a small annexe. The property is sold with No Onward Chain.
The Water Tower has not had to supply water for over a hundred years now, since the (new) mains were connected, and today forms a very secure, comfortable, quiet and warm private house.
Since purchasing the residence, the current owners, have overseen countless enhancements and have purchased additional land and have thus enlarged (prior to screening and landscaping) the plot (along with adding additional roof gardens). There are four individual external mature gardens and al fresco dining areas on east, south and west aspects and one elevated bbq terrace.
The garage has been converted to extend the living accommodation which, if necessary, could easily be arranged differently to provide a ground floor annexe. Equally, it would be straightforward to re-instate the garage, if required. Full Wi-Fi via high speed Virgin broadband cable has been installed along with a Sky satellite dish. There is planning consent for Solar panels to be added to the Garden Room roof.
We would urge your internal viewing of this exciting, historic and unique home without delay.
PLYMOUTH Plymouth is a city with one of the largest natural harbours in the world. To the north is the Dartmoor National Park extending to over 300 square miles which provides excellent recreational facilities. Plymouth itself has a population of well over 250,000 and has a full range of shopping, educational and sporting facilities. There is a mainline train service to London Paddington and to Penzance in Cornwall. Brittany Ferries operates seasonal services from Plymouth to France and northern Spain.
ACCOMMODATION Reference made to any fixture, fittings, appliances or any of the building services does not imply that they are in working order or have been tested by us. Purchasers should establish the suitability and working condition of these items and services themselves.
KITCHEN/SNUG/BREAKFAST/DINING AREA French doors open into the kitchen area which is equipped with black, high gloss cabinets and drawers (mounted at eye and base level), matched by a substantial island unit, incorporating a breakfast bar. The cabinets and drawers are complimented by oak surfaces and an oak splashback. Integrated within the kitchen, is a stainless steel gas hob with extractor hood over and a stainless steel splashback, a stainless steel double oven/grill, a microwave oven, a large American style fridge and a one and a half bowl sink drainer with mixer and extendable hose taps. A door to the south, opens onto the al-fresco dining area, whilst the octagonal-shaped room boasts exposed stone walls, original ceiling beams, oak flooring, whilst facilitating a casual sitting/reading area along with a formal dining space. An opening, featuring original exposed stone walls, passes underneath the feature landing accessing the
DRAWING ROOM Crammed with noteworthy features, that include a vaulted (glazed and beamed) feature ceiling, a bespoke handmade bookcase along one wall, a log burner (with oak mantle over and slate hearth under), oak flooring, whilst not one, but two staircases ascend, prior to marrying on the first floor landing. The staircase features glass balustrades and chrome handrails, and is itself an aesthetically pleasing feature of the
room. Archway into
THE GARDEN ROOM Glazed to three elevations, with tinted glass and finished with limestone/granite floor tiles and exposed stone on the fourth elevation. Overlooking the main lawn and the front patio, which a glazed door accesses, whilst boasting a "period style" radiator.
INNER HALLWAY Two sets of double doors conceal large cloak cabinets and shelved storage cabinets. Natural light is provided by a roof light window. Screened radiator. Door to
BEDROOM FOUR Currently used as a Study/Library) Featuring a decorative Victorian fireplace, with French doors opening onto the south facing patio; another room that makes a feature of the original water tower stonework and has additional light provided via a double glazed roof light window. Bespoke fitted furnishings include a lovely bookcase with cabinets under and a matching study desk, with slide out PC table. Screened radiator.
UTILITY ROOM Equipped with a contemporary range of white cabinets mounted at eye and base level, with round edged worktops, cylindrical sink with mixer taps over and tiled splashbacks, plumbing for washing machine and tiled flooring. The room houses the Worcestor gas combination boiler and a cupboard conceals the Megaflow tank with hanging rail for airing clothes. A glazed door to the rear utility porch.
SHOWER ROOM Equipped with a white suite, comprising of a tiled shower cubicle with screens/doors, a pedestal wash-hand basin with tiled splashbacks and a low level W.C. Tiled floor and frosted window.
REAR UTILITY PORCH Finished with artificial grass floor covering, fitted shelving, space for tumble dryer and fitted coat hooks and boot area.
SAUNA The sauna is suitable for up to four people.
ACCOMODATION N.B. The inner hallway (or the fitted cloak cupboards/wardrobes therein), bedroom four( study/library) utility room and shower room, could collectively, very easily reconfigure to form a ground floor annexe, for an older relative, with the study/library, becoming an additional bedroom/living room, the utility room, forming a small separate kitchen, whilst the shower room, remains as is. Being privately situated to the rear ground floor of the property, with independent access, via either the utility room, or the study, resultantly, independently accessing both the left and right side plots.
FIRST FLOOR LANDING Positioned adjacent to the glazed vaulted living room ceiling, the landing has double, glazed doors opening onto a shallow flight of stairs that lead onto the principle landing area which is finished in oak flooring with glazed balustrades. The landing is noteworthy for two porthole windows with double glazed sealed units and original stonework on the external walls.
A spiral staircase ascends to the second floor accommodation. There are two radiators behind radiator screens and an oak door into the
MASTER BEDROOM Another room making the most of one of the original external walls with three porthole windows with double glazed sealed units, set within its exposed original stonework. The room boasts four fitted mirrors and a fitted dressing table with shelving and drawers under, a screened radiator, ceiling spotlighting and a TV aerial point. With an oak door to
EN SUITE SHOWER ROOM With a double tiled shower enclosure, with mains powered shower over, low level WC and 'his and hers' cylindrical wash hand basins with mixer taps and tiled splashbacks over, a vanity unit with cabinets under, with exposed stonework arched, frosted double glazed window, heated towel rail and recessed ceiling spotlights.
TOWER STAIRCASE The cylindrical staircase ascends to the second floor with a useful understairs storage area with ambient low level lighting all the way up the stairs.
SECOND FLOOR LANDING With double glazed sealed unit porthole window, feature exposed stone wall and oak flooring.
BEDROOM TWO Dressing Area With fitted wardrobes along one wall, exposed stonework, porthole window, understairs storage cupboard, a screened radiator, staircase to
Mezzanine Bed Deck With imposing original ceiling beams, exposed original stonework to external walls, a screened radiator, protected by a balustrade, recessed ceiling spotlights.
EN SUITE JACK & JILL BATHROOM With a continental style square bath with mixer taps over and tiled splashbacks, 'his and hers' wash hand basin with cabinets under and tiled splashbacks and mixer taps over, low level WC, partially tiled floor, heated towel rail, exposed stone walling with porthole window with double glazed sealed unit.
BEDROOM THREE Dressing Area With fitted shelving, dressing table, stairs with understairs cupboard to
Mezzanine Bed Deck
With imposing original ceiling beams, exposed original stonework to external walls, a screened radiator. Protected by a balustrade, recessed ceiling spotlights.
TOWER STAIRCASE & VIEWING TURRET With ambient low level lighting, the stairs ascend to the top of the water tower, where a double glazed door opens onto the viewing turret on top of the water tower, which provides 360 degree views towards the sea, across the Millfields and the City and is fitted with a flag pole.
A few stairs beneath this external access door, an inner doorway opens into the
WATER TANK/STOREROOM The water tank has been converted into an octagonal shaped, large storage void which also has a ladder and an access window out onto the viewing platform at the top of the water tower. Equipped with power and light, the water tank is still lined by its original timbers which themselves are backed by the original leadwork.
FRONT PLOT The property is approached via gates leading directly into the front garden area and this space provides off road parking for at least two vehicles but is currently used as part of the garden. To the left of the drive, you will find the largest area of garden which is level and predominantly laid to lawn, with raised herbaceous borders, stocked with a wide variety of shrubs and flowers. Immediately in front of the garden room and also accessible from French doors in the kitchen/diner, is a patio area, positioned two steps beneath the lawn and a path leads from this patio area to the left of the garden house to a
LEFT PLOT Further substantial patio area screened by fencing and finished with artificial lawn. This patio area is home to a hot tub for 4/5 people. The aforementioned patio area also has a door into a workshop, equipped with power and light, workbench, cabinets and drawers and a staircase that leads up to the
ROOF GARDEN Made up of two principle areas, equipped with power and light, whilst providing a pleasing aspect, of The Millfields site. The largest of these (the first) measures approx. 40' x 20'. A gate opens onto the second roof terrace, which has steps leading into an access hatch, into The Water Tower. Both roof terraces are finished with artificial grass surfacing.
RIGHT PLOT Beyond the drive (screened by a pergola) and accessible from doors in both the bedroom four (ibrary/snug/study) and the kitchen/breakfast room, this south-westerly facing, level, screened area is finished in artificial lawn. Beneath the artificial lawn, the surface is herringbone brick which was formerly a continuation of the drive that led to the garage, which has since been converted to bedroom four (currently being used as the library/snug/study). This enclosed leisure space is often used by the current owners for al fresco dining/barbecuing and culminates, in a pagoda, whilst being flanked by raised planters.
EXTERNAL SERVICES All gardens and the tower are comprehensively and subtly flood lit with soft attractive LCD ambient lighting.
VENDOR'S COMMENTS... "The moment I saw The Water Tower, I knew that I just "had to have it"! I saw in it potential 'wow' factor which frustrated my husband as he could not envisage downsizing to such an individual home!
After many alterations and enhancements, it is the home of our dreams. Sadly, we have to move on but that doesn't take away the excitement I feel each time I come home to it and I know that its next owners will feel the same pleasure we get from living in such an exceptional historical home. In winter, it is cosy with the log burner we installed and looks magically Hogwarts-ish, when candle lit. In the summertime, the Water Tower gets the sun all day long and there is always somewhere to sit sheltered, privately in one of the many little nooks we have created around the garden. Screened by shrubs and trees and enhanced by a lawn with a fountain, it is an idyllic yet manageable, beautiful garden. Tucked away at the end of the Millfields, sometimes I can't believe I am within 5 or 10 minutes' walk from the shops and bus stops and so near to the City Centre, the Theatre Royal and within walking distance to the restaurants and bars in the Royal William Yard and a marina berth.
We have three double bedrooms, two of which are on the second floor, with dressing areas and mezzanine decks for sleeping. Plenty of storage in the converted water tank room and to the rear of the ground floor and an exceptional view all round Plymouth's central suburbs from the top of the Tower. I appreciate, that we have a utility room, a sauna, and my own snug/study at the back of the Tower, which is ideal when I want to escape from Open Plan living and have some time to myself. Our double en-suite bedroom on the first floor is like a ship's cabin with round windows looking across to the magnificent architecture of the Millfields Site.
Children love it, the twisting spiral staircase is a bit like a helter skelter with wonderful views looking down to the ground floor.
I'm sad we have to part with it but I know that it is truly an exceptional home and out of all the houses we have owned, I adore it the best.
So, to summarise what we love about the Water Tower: Great privacy, absolute security and no crime, enormous peace, historic beauty and optimum urban convenience. Finally, this house is huge fun!"
SERVICES Mains water, gas, electricity.
VIEWING By appointment with LAWSON.
OUTGOINGS We understand the property is in band ' F ' for council tax purposes and the amount payable for the year 2019/2020 is £2618.98 (by internet enquiry with Plymouth City Council). These details are subject to change.
TENURE The property is Leasehold with approximately 974 years remaining.
FLOOR PLANS These Floorplans are set out as a guideline only and should not be relied upon as a representation of fact. They are intended for information purposes only and are not to scale. The Energy Performance Certificates are produced by an external source and Lawson do not accept responsibility for their accuracy. Copyright Lawson 2019.