A one-off historic home in a thriving community overlooking Chichester Harbour not only offers gorgeous views and immediate access to the sea, but also more than its fair share of wartime history.
Langstone Towers is one of a number of distinguished houses within the picturesque Langstone Conservation Area.
Vendor Jill Gilbert said her home is full of quirks, with two spiral staircases and a roof garden, and has plenty of literary and military connections.
Jill said: “The original building is pre-Victorian, with a private chapel attached, and used to be twice the size.”
Langstone Towers became a rest home and Red Cross auxiliary hospital for wounded sailors and soldiers in World War One.
She said: “At that time, it had amazing wall tiles which, when the house was renovated, were moved to Havant Memorial Hospital and are still there now.”
After the outbreak of World War Two, it became the temporary home of best-selling novelist and aeronautical engineer Nevil Shute, who moved there in autumn 1939 to avoid stray bombs falling on Portsmouth.
According to information provided by the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation, he lived there until mid-1940 and carried out research on the gliding torpedo on the ground floor.
Jill said: “Apparently he also dined there with Petersfield artist Flora Twort, who owned and restored the old mill.”
Also during the war, the house was commandeered by the Ministry of Defence and Sir Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the bouncing bomb, used what is now Jill’s dining room as his office, and was apparently inspired by skipping marbles over water tanks in his garden.
Jill said: “The ball on our dome was painted gold by our neighbour Henry when he was Barnes Wallis’s office boy.”
About half a century ago, the building was converted into two homes, both with plenty of character.
Jill said her home’s location is as special as its history, however.
“The views are amazing from every window and I will miss them dreadfully, but I need to downsize.
“I’ve been really lucky to live here, as it’s a lovely village and there’s a wonderful community.
“We have the Langstone Village Association and two pubs – every Friday at 6.30pm at The Royal Oak it’s a bit like Coronation Street, as people open their doors and amble to the pub, and on Christmas Eve we’re all in there singing carols.”
Another big plus is Langstone Towers’ closeness to the sea.
“We’ve got kayaks and paddleboards as the sea’s just yards down the road.
“You don’t need a trailer as you can launch boats at the bottom of the road.”
Jill said Langstone Towers would suit someone on their own, a couple or those looking for a second home by the sea.
She said: “It’s ideal if you want to travel a lot, as you can lock it up and go and it’s got a roof garden.
“It’s easy to nip up to Chichester, Southampton or London, so it ticks every single box.
“But you’re never on your own here – there’s always someone around to knock on their door.”
For more information contact Strutt & Parker, 31 North Street, Chichester. Telephone 01243 885199.