Four iconic sea forts are up for sale, but you’ll need a boat or helicopter to reach them

Caroline Allen
·Contributor
·4-min read
Simply called "The Solent", this sea fort is one of three up for sale. (Strutt & Parker)
Welcome to Spitbank Fort, this sea fort is one of three up for sale. (Strutt & Parker)

If you’ve ever dreamed of living a more secluded life, the opportunity to purchase one of four iconic sea forts might be of interest to you.

Only accessible by boat or helicopter, you’re not at risk of junk mail through the letterbox in one of these unique properties.

The catch? If you want to buy a refurbished one, you’ll need a spare £4m in the bank, or to be on very good terms with a mortgage advisor.

Spitbank Fort is listed for sale for £4m and No Man’s Fort can be yours for £4.2m. Both are located in the Solent, near Portsmouth

Those happy to do a lot of renovation work may be interested in the third sea fort in the Solent, which is a bargain in comparison: Horse Sand Fort, is available for just £750k.

Those looking for a project might consider buying Horse Sand Fort for £750,000. (Strutt & Parker)
Those looking for a project might consider buying Horse Sand Fort for £750,000. (Strutt & Parker)
The most expensive of the three forts is currently running as a boutique hotel. (Strutt & Parker)
No Man's Fort, the most expensive of the forts has 23 substantial en-suite bedrooms. (Strutt & Parker)

Those considering taking on the rather daunting refurbishment of Horse Sands Fort might be comforted to know that both the other sea forts were refurbished in 2012, proving it can be done to a high standard.

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The Solent forts can be reached in just 20 minutes by helicopter from London or by 35 minute transfer from Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.

The listings of the two more expensive properties highlight how easy it would be to turn a sea fort into anything from off-shore casinos to ultra-private residences.

They’ve each already had £4m spent on them to get them up to a luxurious level, so the two unique properties are ready to move into.

Spitbank Fort is also a boutique hotel. (Visit Portsmouth)
Spitbank Fort is also a boutique hotel. (Visit Portsmouth)

One fort that hasn’t been given the TLC it desperately needs, though, is Horse Sand Fort, which is reflected in the £750,000 price tag.

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Horse Sand Fort is the same size as No Man’s Fort (99,000 sq. ft over four floors) with 100 “living chambers” and the same rich history as the other two sea forts.

The last time this fort was purchased it was in what was described as an “abandoned state” but has since been lovingly and painstakingly restored so it’s now a stable structure.

Horse Sands Fort is currently operating as a museum for the three forts. (Strutt & Parker)
Horse Sands Fort is currently operating as a museum for the three forts. (Strutt & Parker)

Although sea forts aren’t available to buy that regularly, there are others on the market.

Just recently, a 165-year-old abandoned fort with the unusual address of Number One, The Thames, has gone up for sale for £1.5m.

Based half a mile off the Isle of Grain, Kent, where the Thames and the Medway rivers meet, Grain Tower Battery was snapped up for £500,000 in 2015.

During low tide it can be accessed via a half-mile causeway, but at high tide, the tower is completely cut off from the mainland and is accessible only by boat or helicopter.

Despite its historical significance, the fort remained dilapidated and is now back up for sale. It’s marketed as a possible nightclub, hotel, outdoor pursuit centre or casino - in much the same way that the Solent sea forts are.

History buffs might be interested to know that the three Solent properties have rich historical backgrounds - much like Number One, The Thames, meaning potential buyers would really be purchasing a piece of the past.

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“The Solent Forts date back over 150 years when fear of invasion by the French led by Napoleon III resulted in the commissioning of these sea-based defences by British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston”, according to Strutt & Parker.

They were pivotal in both World War I and World War II, when they were used as defensives for the Portsmouth dockyard.

In World War I, they even came equipped with their own guns to keep smaller ships from infiltrating British soil.

They’re not a bad piece of history to pick up if you’ve got the money - or the refurbishment know-how.