A UNIQUE 14-storey folly in the New Forest has been put on the market for £3.5 million.

The 220ft Sway Tower, also known as Peterson’s Folly, has been the home of Paul Atlas and his family for the past 46 years.

Mr Atlas and his wife, Julie, want to sell up so they can downsize to a smaller property for their retirement years.

VIP International Homes is helping the couple find a buyer for the distinctive 1880s building, which features four bedrooms, one on each floor, three reception rooms, an indoor pool and a tennis court.

Each of the tower’s 14 storeys are reached via an enclosed spiral staircase attached to the outside of the tower.


Those fit enough to tackle the 330 steps and make it to the top are rewarded with breathtaking views of the New Forest, the Solent and the Isle of Wight.

The property even benefits from a ‘passive’ rental income of around £35,000 a year from two mobile operators and the emergency services, which use three of the rooms.

The property has been on the market previously but VIP International Homes, in association with Sell To Billionaires, have now been asked to market it. Shaun Ascough, owner of VIP International Homes, said the folly was “the most unique property in the Forest”.

“Our client, Paul Atlas, bought the property in 1973 and it’s also been a labour of love for him too - as it was for the original owner, Andrew Thomas Petersen.

“When Paul first bought the tower he had to remove the sand on the seventh floor left by the Home Guard, who had brought in sandbags when the tower was used as a defence against enemy aircraft.

“At this stage the tower was just a shell with no floors, doors or windows and Paul basically used it as a shed and as a workshop.”

The tower was badly damaged in the Great Storm of 1987 but remedial work to repair the building was undertaken, with grants from English Heritage, New Forest District Council, and Hampshire County Council.


In the early 1990s, Mr Atlas converted the tower into living accommodation and operated the property as a hotel and a small restaurant.

Notable guests included actor Albert Finney.

Mr Atlas closed the hotel in 1995 and he and Julie and their two children moved into the tower.

“We have received wide interest from around the globe but only a handful of viewings so far,” Mr Ascough said.

Sway Tower was the first building in Britain to be made of non-reinforced concrete and is also the tallest structure in the world to hold that distinction.

Wealthy landowner Andrew Peterson built the original structure in the early 1880s after returning from India and drawing up plans to create a centrepiece for his Hampshire estate.


The retired judge was determined to prove concrete’s versatility as a building material and was also anxious to provide work for unemployed locals.

According to local legend he consulted a medium and made contact with legendary architect Sir Christopher Wren, who encouraged him to build the folly.