Have you ever dreamt of running away to the circus, but were reluctant to leave the comfort of your own home? Now you can have both, thanks to a stunningly quirky property off the South-East coast of England.
What do you think of when you picture your dream home in your mind? High ceilings, lots of space and a prime location? Maybe on days when you’re feeling whimsical you imagine living in a converted church with stain-glass windows, or in a house with its own home gym and spa facilities.
Whatever your fantasy, it’s a safe bet that you never pictured living in a converted Victorian Turkish bathhouse with a bowling alley in the kitchen, a cinema room with a wall-length sofa and a healthy dash of carnival decor.
Luckily for us, one person did, and that is why The Bath House in St. Leonards-On-Sea exists. It came to the market a couple of years ago, but appears not to have found a buyer; and we think it’s fair to say that it’s probably because they might have to wait a little while for just the right person to come along for a home like this…
Surprisingly for a house which has lived so many lives (from the Victorian bathhouse which gave it its name, to a school swimming house and a glass factory), there is nothing to suggest that The Bath House does not have all of the attributes one looks for in a four-bedroom family home.
An open-plan living room and kitchen open out from the main hall through a lively corridor, with a plethora of natural wood and high ceilings, benefiting from several skylights.
Space is ample, divided into separate areas for cooking and relaxing, with a large dining table sitting under a mezzanine floor in the middle of the room.
A full-length functioning bowling lane runs along the side of the social space, with a light-up clown’s face peering down at you while you aim at the pins. This is going to be divisive, let’s face it: some people will love the kitsch appeal of a feature like this; others will have nightmares for weeks.
The sense of fun continues arcade games surrounding the office space dotted throughout the room.
The kitchen is, in a word, wonderful: driftwood cupboards blend (we won’t say seamlessly) with polished concrete worktops and a diner-like set of lockers… We say ‘diner-like’… you could equally picture these having been lifted from a WWII-era military prison.
The mezzanine floor is another world, sitting calmly above the organised chaos and decorated in neutral tones, a place to sit, read and listen to the pins tumbling down below.
Also on the ground floor are two of the bedrooms, sitting either side of the entrance hall and accompanied by a bathroom and a shower room. The exposed brick, wooden floorboards and the bathroom tiles reminiscent of Spain are absolutely charming – it’s safe to say that the cross motif and burlesque signs are a matter of taste.
The master bedroom sits above the rest of the house, with a polished metal bath tub next to the bed, a beautiful stained-glass door leading to the landing and views of the seaside from the many windows.
A stone’s throw from the sea, the property is ideally located to access the many bars, restaurants and galleries which the St Leonard’s seafront have to offer.
Less than half a mile away is the mainline station which leads into London Charing Cross and London Bridge, and across the road the St Leonard’s gardens provide a green haven away from all the excitement, should the new owner need it.
So, what would you do? Strip it back to it’s wooden floorboards and Victorian brick and start over, or maintain one of the most unique houses we’ve seen here at Country Life this (or any) year? The option lies with the next owner of The Bath House.
Of course, they may decide, as others have before, to completely change the purpose of the building once more. Is St. Leonards-On-Sea in need of a new tea house?
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