Own a Brilliantly Converted Brick Fortress in England For $1.5M

Own a Brilliantly Converted Brick Fortress in England For $1.5M

By Lucy Wang
Adapted from a decaying defense tower from the Napoleonic era, this RIBA award-winning home in Suffolk has a surprisingly crisp interior.

On a quiet stretch of coast in Suffolk, an early 19th-century Martello tower—a British Empire defense fort built during the Napoleonic wars—is home to a surprisingly cozy and modern interior that belies its daunting facade.  

Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the secluded village of Bawdsey, the Martello Tower Y overlooks views of the sea and countryside.

The stunning transformation of the Grade-II building from brick ruins to a contemporary dwelling has drawn praise and accolades, including the RIBA Award of 2010—and is now turning heads in the real estate market with an asking price of £1,250,000 (about $1,554,500).

The Martello Tower Y is one of approximately 100 Martello towers built in the early 19th century along the British coastline to defend against Napoleon's army.

Lauded as "exemplary" by historical site nonprofit English Heritage, the conversion at Martello Tower Y is the work of industrial designer Duncan Jackson of Billings Jackson Design and architect Stuart Piercy of Piercy & Company

A view of the wooden front door.

The entrance sequence begins with a metal staircase that leads up to the first-floor entrance hall with a coat cupboard and bathroom.

The duo was well-aware of the challenges they would face from the start: not only was the waterlogged structure in shambles, but it also lacked access to water and electricity and was a Scheduled Monument listed under Buildings at Risk in an ecologically sensitive area.

The view from the entrance hall.

Working alongside conservation experts, the duo completed the ambitious renovation after eight years.

A central brick column anchors the space.

The first-floor den features a wood-burning stove.

The thoughtful adaptive reuse of the two-story building has resulted in three livable floors. An outdoor metal staircase leads to the entrance on the first floor, where a cozy den with a wood-burning fireplace is located.

A curved staircase descends to the ground-floor bedrooms.

From there, residents can descend down the curved staircase to the ground floor sleeping areas, where there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms, or go up to the battlements, which have been converted into an open-plan living area with an outdoor terrace. A band of glazing wraps around the top floor for spectacular panoramic views.

Light wells cut into the nearly 10-foot-wide masonry walls let daylight into the bedrooms, which were formerly used as storage rooms.

A peek inside one of the bathrooms. Most of the fittings and finishes are bespoke to match the historic architecture.

The top floor of the fort has been turned into an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen protected by an undulating plywood roof providing 360-degree views of the surroundings.

The home was originally built for the family of Duncan Jackson and was later sold and used as a luxe holiday home called The Found.

The home comprises nearly a million bricks, which have been left exposed to reference the building's architectural history.

The well-appointed kitchen includes all the modern necessities for entertaining. A band of glazing wraps around the open-plan living space to take in panoramic views.

Full-height sliding glazed doors open up to an outdoor terrace on the exposed section of the battlements with spectacular views.

Surrounded by open farmland, the unique home is located approximately two-and-a-half hours from London on the east side of Bawdsey village.

Martello Tower Y, Bawdsey, Suffolk is now being listed by The Modern Home for £1,250,000. See the full listing here.

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