For sale for the first time, the new home in a me­dieval tower

This his­toric land­mark has be­come a home for the first time in its 700-year-old his­tory. Now it’s up for sale. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

TACK­LING the ren­o­va­tion of a sched­uled an­cient mon­u­ment is not for the faint-hearted but se­rial ren­o­va­tor Ian Berg was con­fi­dent he could ne­go­ti­ate his way through the red tape that of­ten stran­gles such projects.

“I used all the skills I use my job,” says Ian, a hu­man re­sources ex­pert, cur­rently ad­vis­ing the govern­ment.

Be­tween of­fer­ing to buy York’s me­dieval Len­dal Tower and com­plet­ing the deal in June 2010, he man­aged to get English Her­itage ,York City Coun­cil plan­ning depart­ment, con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cers, build­ing reg­u­la­tions and the Depart­ment for Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport to agree to his scheme of work to turn the tower into a home for the first time in its 700-year his­tory.

“A pro­ject like this is all about peo­ple skills. If I had ac­cepted the first an­swer I got I wouldn’t have got any­where.

“It’s about see­ing things from their per­spec­tive, be­ing per­sua­sive, re­spect­ful and think­ing cre­atively. I also lined up the crafts­men and builders and so they were ready to start as soon as the prop­erty was mine,” he says, proud that his quest to save the ne­glected land­mark from dere­lic­tion, and turn it into York’s quirki­est abode, was com­plete in just 14 months.

“It was in a sorry state when I first saw it. It had been empty for ten years, the roof was leak­ing and the win­dows were smashed. It had been left to rot, damp and pi­geons. But I knew it I could make it into some­thing spe­cial.

“No-one else seemed to be in­ter­ested in buy­ing it but I have ren­o­vated a lot of his­toric build­ings and I thought: ‘It has to be mine and it has to be sorted out and done prop­erly’.”

Af­ter spend­ing well over £300,000, he hopes that oth­ers will be equally charmed by the prop­erty and its ex­cep­tional river­side lo­ca­tion by Len­dal Bridge in York city cen­tre. It is now on the mar­ket for £1.35 mil­lion with Carter Jonas.

“It is un­ri­valled in terms of lo­ca­tion and you now have the ben­e­fit of a mod­ern home within an his­toric prop­erty,” says Ian.

The me­dieval build­ing was built in 1300 as part of the city’s de­fences. Back then, a huge chain was stretched across the Ouse from Len­dal Tower to Barker Tower on the op­po­site shore, to keep en­e­mies out and to en­sure vis­i­tors paid a toll

In 1677, the tower was leased to what would be­come the York Wa­ter­works Com­pany and used as a pump­ing sta­tion. A don­key used to power the pump and was forced to make cir­cuits of what is now the liv­ing room. If it was sick, pris­on­ers would be drafted in to do the work.

In 1836, the tower be­came York Wa­ter­works Com­pany’s head­quar­ters.

Money was no ob­ject when fit­ting it out with oak pan­elling and dec­o­ra­tive plas­ter­work. A Pickering lift was later in­stalled to take vis­i­tors to the grand board­room on the top floor.

The build­ing then passed to York­shire Wa­ter, who sold it to lo­cal de­vel­oper the Helm­s­ley Group in 2004.

It got per­mis­sion to con­vert the tower and sold it on to en­tre­pre­neur David Hat­ter­s­ley, whose com­pany went into liq­ui­da­tion be­fore it could tackle the pro­ject.

Ian stepped in and ad­mits he didn’t bother with a sur­vey be­cause “the build­ing has been there long enough with­out fall­ing down and wood­worm don’t live for 700 years.”

In­stead he got on with ren­o­vat­ing the mul­lion win­dows and or­nate pan­elling, while walls were re-plas­tered and the whole place re-plumbed and wired.

Heat­ing was also in­stalled and the roof made wa­ter­tight.

“Th­ese projects are al­ways more ex­pen­sive than you think be­cause you can’t buy off the shelf or nip down to B&Q for that kind of thing,” he says. “It’s been worth it though. The cen­tral heat­ing in par­tic­u­lar has had enor­mous ben­e­fits. The tower has changed colour since we put the heat­ing in. The stone was grey and damp and now it’s dry and more mel­low.”

The prop­erty, which comes with a gar­den and park­ing, has yielded 2,500sq ft of liv­ing space on three floors. The ground floor has a sit­ting room, din­ing hall and kitchen plus a bath­room op­po­site the lift.

The high-ceil­ings sup­port a mez­za­nine of­fice/bed­room ac­cessed via a spi­ral stair­case. On the first floor, there is a bed­room, dress­ing room and en-suite, while the sec­ond floor has an­other bed­room and en-suite.

But the real wow fac­tor comes from the roof ter­race at the top of the crenel­lated tower. It boasts spec­tac­u­lar views of the city in­clud­ing the Min­ster and the river.

Its prox­im­ity to the Ouse prompted fears that the tower might flood, but Ian says it is wa­ter­tight. “I checked that risk out very care­fully be­fore I bought it be­cause it is right next to the river but it was the base­ment that used to flood and that was filled in.”

While he had in­tended to live in the tower full-time, his work has taken him away for long pe­ri­ods.

He bridged the gaps by let­ting it as a hol­i­day home but has now de­cided to sell.

“I have put a great deal of work, care and time into res­cu­ing, ren­o­vat­ing and regenerating this su­perb build­ing and I have grown very fond of it,” he says.

“Even though it is in the cen­tre of York, it is very cosy and quiet thanks to the 4ft thick. It’s also very se­cure. It’s with­stood ev­ery­thing from Oliver Cromwell’s Round­heads to the Luft­waffe and I’m hop­ing that the work I’ve done will see it last an­other 700 years.”

HEART OF THE CITY: Len­dal Tower is now a quiet and cosy home thanks to a ren­o­va­tion that has given it three bed­rooms and a roof ter­race with 360 de­gree views of York. Though it sits along­side the River Ouse next to Len­dal Bridge, only the for­mer base­ment was prone to flood­ing, and that is now filled in and the tower it­self is wa­ter­tight.

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