An exceptional Victorian water tower on the edge of the Sandringham Estate. This functional building of the highest provenance makes a comfortable nest among the tree tops.
A Royal Retreat
In 1871, Edward, Prince of Wales fell ill with typhoid while staying on the royal estate at Sandringham, as did his eldest son three years later. These were chilling reminders for Queen Victoria of the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert from the same disease at Windsor Castle. Following that tragedy, the engineer Robert Rawlinson had reported that numerous foul cesspools underlay the Castle’s drainage, almost certainly the source of the Prince Consort’s infection. Tests on the Sandringham water supply showed it to be similarly unsatisfactory. A clean, reliable water supply for the whole estate was an urgent priority.
360 degree view of the landscape
Engineer James Mansergh was appointed to oversee the new waterworks, supervised by Rawlinson. The new spring rose below the level of the royal residence, and the highest point of the estate still only a few feet above its roof. The 32,000-gallon cast-iron tank that tops the Appleton Water Tower delivered the water pressure required, and is the 60-foot Tower’s raison d’être. Work began on Mansergh’s neo-Byzantine design in summer 1877, foundation stones laid by junior members of the Royal Family.
Realising the upper levels of his tower would command a dazzling view of much of Norfolk, Mansergh reserved the second-floor room as a viewing room for the royal family and their guests to use on shooting parties or picnics. From the terrace on top of the tank, protected by an ornate cast-iron railing, and from the room below, there is a view on all sides over miles of wide, open landscape, with even a distant gleam of the Wash. Today you can enjoy these views, just as the royals once did.