Published 3rd July 2007
Had Nigel Bartlett contacted me before I first wrote about Tower House in 2005, researching the piece would certainly have been far simpler. Along with him living in the important Edwardian pile, his father was responsible for designing the modern adjoining blocks. And now Nigel’s flat, the “Crow’s Nest” is up for sale.
1902, the year that Tower House was built on London Road, is clearly displayed on an elegant dormer window directly above the building’s front door. Today, the door leads directly into a Brighton & Hove City Council-run day centre instead of into the twelve-bedroomed single house that it once did. In fact, Tower House’s upper floors are now ten whole flats. To be fair though, the exterior has changed little since 1902; its distinctive tower, balcony and gables all remain unchanged. However, its original neighbour, Tivoli, wasn’t so fortunate – it was demolished when Tower House was converted in 1988.
Tower House and Tivoli were built on land that was previously a pleasure garden called Tivoli Gardens that had tree-lined walks, shrubberies and flowerbeds. Tower House was designed by G. Burstow & Sons for James John Savage, a jeweller by royal appointment to Edward VII. The family monogram may still be seen on the front of the house. Mr Savage died in 1922 aged 75 and Mrs Savage in 1933 aged 81. Tower House was then sold at auction for £4,000. Soon afterwards, it was requisitioned by the army, as were many buildings in Brighton, during the Second World War.
A crow’s nest is a structure in the upper part of the mainmast of a ship that is used as a look-out point. Tower House’s Crow’s Nest unsurprisingly provides some serious views across the roofs of one of Brighton’s leafiest areas. It is set across several floors; tipped with a weather vane on a leaded dome surrounded by a balcony and offering panoramic views. Steps wind down to the floor below that also has views on all sides and was once James Savage’s art studio (but is now Nigel Bartlett’s music studio). There is also access (down more steps!) to the large intricate iron balcony at the building’s rear. The Crow’s Nest, one of Brighton’s most unique properties, is being marketed by King & Chasemore.
Next week I shall be writing about another Crow’s Nest that is maritime-themed. Clue: it’s based in Portsmouth but it’s not a boat.