A FORMER Ministry of Defence battery which was used to defend the British coast from invasions has gone on sale for £2.6m.
Steyne Wood Battery in Bembridge, Isle of Wight, was built between 1889-1894 with the purpose of providing a defensive position on the eastern coastline.
Its purpose was to protect the area by preventing ships lying off Sandown and bombarding the Royal Navy Fleet in Portsmouth Harbour.
All of the bomb proof shelters, ammunition stores, gun positions and defensive structure remain intact in the 13,724 sq ft grounds.
The main six-bedroom period home sits at the centre of the grounds next to a three-bedroom annex – just metres away from a pool and tennis court.
Several other buildings are included in the sale including the original Guards House, Forge and a boat testing facility.
A separate two-bedroom building, known as Shell Cottage, was the original ammunition store and is situated amongst the fascinating gun emplacements.
Aerial images show the full scale of the battery surrounded by woodland.
Estate agent Spence Willard listed the property on the market yesterday with a guide price of £2.6m.
They said: “The Battery was bought from the MOD by Sir John Thornycroft in 1909 and has remained in the same family as a private residence ever since providing a wonderful home for generations, friends and as a venue for parties and weddings, as well as anyone with a keen interest in British military or wartime history.
“A versatile arrangement centred around a stunning detached house, three of the original buildings in the grounds (The Guard House, Forge and Shell Cottage) provide self-contained cottages and would be ideally used as ancillary or holiday let accommodation.
“The house itself benefits from an adjacent three-bedroom annexe, a swimming pool, lawn tennis court and some stunning woodland walks beyond the iconic earthwork bund line around the house.
“This fascinating and diverse property located on the western fringe of the popular coastal village of Bembridge also lies in close proximity to Culver Down and an area of outstanding natural beauty, in addition to Bembridge airport and the beautiful beach at Whitecliff Bay.
“The grounds extend to approximately 18 acres and of particular note, the Listed (Grade II) boat testing facility that was built by Sir John Thornycroft, who founded the ship building company Thornycroft & Co here in Bembridge.”
The battery is classified as a scheduled monument which places state protection on the property.
It is one of the many Palmerston Forts built on the island to protect it in response to a perceived threat of French invasion.
Steyne Wood Battery had the shortest active service of any battery or fortification on the Isle of Wight, and was only armed and in service for two years between 1896-1898.
High angle guns were positioned inland so that they were hidden from an enemy fleet, who would not be able to counter-attack them.
It was constructed with three gun groups, each of two guns.
Defensive rifle trenches were emphasised where infantry would be able to advance in front of the guns to defend from enemy attack.
The defence was also aided by a steel palisade in the front while rifle trenches protected the rear of the battery.
The battery’s weapons were stored in intricate underground bombproof cartridge and shell stores between the guns.
The battery also had a guard room, cell and a caretaker’s quarters capable for use as prisoner’s quarters.