Appleton Water Tower

Sandringham, Norfolk


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.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • Electric Car Charging PointElectric Car Charging Point
  • CotCot
  • Bed in Living RoomBed in Living Room
  • Mobile signalMobile signal
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • ShowerShower

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

2 +2
4 nights from
£712 equivalent to £44.50 per person, per night

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.

Floor Plan


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Map & local info

Appleton Water Tower stands on a hilltop on the edge of the Royal estate and enjoys views over miles of wide, open landscape. From here, you can even see a distant gleam of the Wash.

Norfolk provides a wealth of things to do during your stay at Appleton Water Tower. You will be of course staying on Sandringham Estate, the private home to four generations of British monarchs since 1862. 

The stunning Norfolk coastline is within easy driving distance from Appleton Water Tower offering opportunities for a day at the beach or a trip on the Norfolk Heritage Railway - a fantastic way to experience the beautiful landscape and views. 

Norfolk Lavender is 20 minutes in the car, where you can enjoy the fields in bloom from June until August. Close by is the Lynn Museum (10 miles) which tells the story of West Norfolk.

Discover local walks for dogs with our friends at, the dog walks community. For more details on these local attractions, please see our Pinterest page for Appleton Water Tower. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

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Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • Yes. You are welcome to bring up to two dogs. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if you have an assistance dog, for which there is no charge. There are game birds in the area, and game shooting may happen in the winter. Dogs should be kept under control all year round.
  • By an estate track from the main road.
  • Kings Lynn – 9 miles.
  • Yes, two spaces adjacent to the tower.
  • There is electric night storage heating and also an open fire.
  • Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit* Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker and a microwave.
  • There is one bathroom with a free-standing shower unit.
  • There are many steep, spiral stairs in the property. The staircase is narrow.
  • There is an enclosed garden. You can also walk on the permitted paths on the estate.  Although the garden is enclosed we cannot guarantee that it is secure for dogs.  
  • Shooting takes place on a regular basis throughout the winter months in the surrounding area which is not under our control.
  • Yes,  but we would ask that care is taken in inclement weather and that children and dogs are supervised when on the roof.
  • There is a Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge point at the property, located to the right of the small timber bin store. You will need to request this facility at the time of booking to ensure the outlet has been enabled for your arrival. There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
  • Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. Hairdryers are provided.

A clean water supply for Sandringham

In 1871, the then Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) fell ill with typhoid while at Sandringham. Three years later, so too did his eldest son. Both royal illnesses must have vividly brought to mind the death of the Prince’s father, Prince Albert, from the same disease while at Windsor Castle. Following that tragedy the engineer Robert Rawlinson was asked to report on the drainage of the Castle (it proved to be underlain by numerous foul cesspools, almost certainly the source of the Prince Consort's infection).

The Sandringham water supply must have at once come under suspicion, and indeed tests showed it to be unsatisfactory. As a matter of urgency, the house and indeed the whole estate had to be provided with a reliable and clean water supply.

The engineer responsible for the design of the new waterworks was James Mansergh (he is said to have been assisted by an amateur architect named Martin Ffolkes, but there is little evidence for this). Rawlinson was appointed to supervise the construction of the new waterworks; he and Mansergh had previously worked together successfully on the Birmingham water supply.

It was decided to take the new supply from a chalk spring a mile or so from Sandringham House. The level of the spring was more than 20 feet below that of the house so a pumping station was needed. Moreover, the highest point of the Sandringham estate was still only about five feet above the roof of the house, and in order to ensure that there would be sufficient pressure for fire-extinguishing purposes a service reservoir would be needed: this is the 32,000-gallon cast-iron tank that tops the Appleton Water Tower, and it is this tank that is the 60-foot Tower’s raison d’être. Incidentally, the height and the elevated position of the Tower ensure that it is a conspicuous feature visible from many miles around.

Mansergh’s polychromic design, described as neo-Byzantine and carried out in differently coloured red bricks and local stone, exploited this position in more ways than one. Realising that the upper levels of the Tower would command a dazzling view of much of Norfolk, he reserved the second-floor room for the use of the royal family and their guests when shooting parties or picnickers required a base during the day. A floor above the viewing room accommodated the valve gear, and the two lower floors made a dwelling for either the engineer in charge of the pumping station or perhaps a caretaker. A separate entrance and stair were made within the smaller tower to give independent access to the viewing room.

Work began in the summer of 1877 – the Princess of Wales, her brother and two of the young princes all laid foundation stones – and finished about a year later. Water flowed from the spring under gravity through stoneware pipes for some 750 yards to the pumping station, where it was softened and pumped via a further 400 yards of pipes and a four-inch rising main into the tank. In winter the water in the tank was kept from freezing by the heat from the fireplaces below, the flues of which passed through the middle of the tank. From here it ran under pressure for more than a mile to the house and the surrounding cottages, via branch mains that carried a dozen hydrants encircling the house. When all was complete the hydrants were tested, with three or four jets being played simultaneously over the roof of the house, by the famously energetic and strikingly handsome Captain Shaw of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (immortalised by Gilbert in one of the songs in Iolanthe) and found to be 'to his entire satisfaction'.  Not only, therefore, had the Prince of Wales now supplied his household with a pure and wholesome water supply, but he had placed it in 'a condition of security from fire possessed by few of the great country houses of England.' 

For a short history of Appleton Water Tower please click here.

To read the full history album for Appleton Water Tower please click here.

To download a copy of the children's Explorer pack for Appleton Water Tower please click here.

The Appleton waterworks

The Appleton waterworks served the Sandringham estate well for many years as a private concern, but eventually came to be operated by the local water authority. By 1973, however, it had become surplus to their requirements and stood empty for three years after which it was leased to the Landmark Trust, a charity that specialises in rescuing buildings of architectural and historic importance.


The Trust was delighted to be given the rare opportunity of saving a fully functional building of such high quality. The architects Michael and Sheila Gooch, a husband and wife partnership from Norwich, were commissioned to carry out the restoration, the builders being Fisher & Sons, a local firm from Fakenham.

The old outbuildings were demolished, to leave the Tower free-standing in its clearing in the woods. The roofs of the tank and the turret of the staircase tower were decayed and had to be replaced. The intricate details of the elaborate brickwork were all carefully repaired and repointed, and cracks in the tank’s ironwork were repaired. In addition, replicas were specially made to replace missing details of the ornamental ironwork. New windows and doors were fitted, and a new kitchen and shower room formed on the ground floor. One of the most significant changes was the construction of an extended internal staircase linking the viewing room on the second floor to the floors below, which meant that the Tower became for the first time a fully integrated dwelling. It received its first visitors exactly a century after the Princess of Wales laid the first foundation stone. Happily if fortuitously, in the same year the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society restored the old steam engines in the pumping station.

As you see it today, however, the Water Tower has recently undergone a further rejuvenation, carried out in the light of twenty years of Landmarkers’ experiences of living in this much-loved if eccentric 'holiday cottage'. Under the guidance of the architect Will Hawkes of Hawkes Cave & Edwards, Stratford-upon-Avon, and with Linfords of Lichfield as the main contractor, the building has been fully rewired, replumbed and redecorated, and a new heating system has been installed. The ground-floor shower room and kitchen have also been refurbished. Perhaps the most practical change has been that a way was found to bring part of the top floor – the old valve room beneath the tank – into service as additional living accommodation in the shape of a much needed extra bathroom.

The old sitting room next to the kitchen on the ground floor has now become the dining room, while perhaps the best room in the Tower – the viewing room on the second floor – has been redesigned as a bed-sitting room. As a result while you are staying in the Tower you can, if you choose, spend as much as possible of your day here, gazing at the Norfolk landscape spread out below you, and in the evening watch the seabirds quietly flying home to the distant sandbanks of the Wash.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.