Published: 00:01, 30 April 2017
A stunning home on stilts with unrivalled views across open countryside is on the market.
The Water Tower in Rolvenden is the home of Bruno and Denise Del Tufo, who transformed the unpromising concrete structure at the bottom of their garden into a glass-clad home that won plaudits from Grand Designs’ presenter Kevin McCloud.
Having branded it "an ugly brute of a building" at first sight, Kevin later described the glass and zinc creation that became the couple's home, as one of his top three projects from the entire show.
It's now on the market through upmarket London estate agent KnightFrank for £895,000.
Bruno, 68, says that practicalities are behind the decision to say goodbye to their dream home as they contemplate full retirement.
“The house is a delight to live in but it’s better to move while we can and before we have to,” said Bruno.
“We’ve had an immense amount of pleasure from the house but we can either carry on in our dotage and be carried out of it, or let someone else write the next chapter.
"It’s like handing over a baton.”
The couple first bought a Victorian cottage, West Lodge, on the land and at the time their solicitor suggested they might research the water tower at the end of their garden if they hadn’t already knocked it down.
It transpired the tower was designed by acclaimed architect Edwin Lutyens, the creator of the Cenotaph in London, to supply water to the adjacent Great Maytham Hall, and that the setting was the inspiration for the children’s classic The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Bruno, a retired sculptor and visiting teacher of visually impaired children and his wife Denise, 62, an antiques dealer, decided to sell West Lodge and in 2005 embarked on creating their future home.
They had come across the work of Tunbridge Wells architect Derek Briscoe and appointed him after admiring his transformation of a concrete bunker in Chislehurst.
“When we saw Derek plans for the house we were blown away,” said Bruno.
“It summed up all our ideas.”
Their new home was 11 months in the making, with the work costing around £300,000.
The couple sacrificed every comfort to live in a caravan, enduring a bitter, snowy winter while the property was being built.
“We had actually had two caravans, one for ourselves and one for our four dogs.
“It was pretty grim time and I wouldn’t like to do it again,” said Bruno.
But the sacrifices were forgotten once the pair were cocooned in their dream home in April 2006 with its vast expanse of windows.
“The house blends in with the countryside and seems to reflect its surroundings,” said Bruno.
“It’s a bit like a huge tree house and it’s perfect for anyone who loves the country and wants an adventure.
“There’s a view from every window and on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve you can watch firework displays all around and from as far away as Hastings.”
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