Eastbourne - BelleToute
The last remaining residential lighthouse in the UK is opening its doors to new tenants.
Three years ago, Mark and Louise Roberts were joined on the normally quiet chalk downs near Beachy Head by a 140-strong media circus. They had all gathered to see the couple move house, after a landslide left their home only 9ft from the cliff edge and a 285ft drop to the English Channel below.
The Roberts' home is one of the Sussex coast's most famous landmarks, the 168-year-old Belle Toute lighthouse. Rather than hiring a removal van, they needed 17 men, a battery of hydraulic jacks, float pads, concrete runners and high-tech monitoring equipment.
The 850-ton, granite-clad tower was underpinned before being lifted 2ft in the air and moved 55ft inland. The Roberts took out a £250,000 loan and spent two years planning the nine-hour move to save their home. Now the family, who had lived in a hotel and a boat before renting the landmark from Eastbourne council in 1996, have decided to up sticks again - just them this time, not the house. The Roberts are planning to travel around Europe before their children, Haven, 4, and Quinn, 3, start school, and are seeking tenants for their home.
The only residential lighthouse in the UK, Belle Toute has five double bedrooms, two single tower rooms, four bathrooms, a study, a large open-plan dining room and living area, a kitchen and the lantern room. It's an "upside-down house", according to Haven, with the living rooms upstairs so the family can enjoy the view and the bedrooms on the ground floor. Built in 1834, Belle Toute shone for the last time in 1902 before being replaced by the Beachy Head lighthouse.
Since then it has had a chequered history, shifting ever-closer to the cliff edge. Belle Toute became a private residence in 1923, entertaining King George V and Queen Mary in 1935.
During the second world war, however, it was requisitioned for target practice by Canadian troops, who left it a derelict shell. It was rescued from demolition when it was declared a listed building in 1950, and restored by the architect Edward Cullinan five years later.
The Roberts family, who have run the building as a bed and breakfast, used right-to-buy legislation in the 1968 Leasehold Reform Act to purchase the lighthouse freehold from Eastbourne council for £900 last year.
They bought the leasehold interest in 1997 andare seeking rent of £2,500-£3,000 a month. A shortlist will then be compiled prior to viewings. "We're not looking for the highest bidder. We want the right people who can enjoy it." Competition may be stiff: when the lighthouse was part of English Heritage's Open House weekend it attracted 500 visitors, with 2,500 other hopefuls turned away