A place to let your hair down

Kazuri is a four-storey tower with panoramic views on the edge of the proposed South Downs National Park. It's a fairy-tale setting and the perfect home for Rapunzel, says Cheryl Markosky
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The Independent Online

S ome of Farah Damji's metropolitan friends think her country bolthole is a tad too quiet for their liking. Tucked away in what agents call "a delightful rural location" on the edge of the village of Ramsdean, near East Meon in Hampshire, you certainly are away from it all in Kazuri, an unusual converted four-storey tower.

S ome of Farah Damji's metropolitan friends think her country bolthole is a tad too quiet for their liking. Tucked away in what agents call "a delightful rural location" on the edge of the village of Ramsdean, near East Meon in Hampshire, you certainly are away from it all in Kazuri, an unusual converted four-storey tower.

But if seclusion and a spot of originality are what you are after, then it is worthwhile climbing all the stairs that wind round the curves that make up Kazuri. It is thought to have originally been a hop kiln or grain store, and the circular folly is certainly a far cry from the dull, square, magnolia boxes that less imaginative house builders churn out. You won't catch Mr and Mrs Joe Average next door cleaning their car or pruning their roses. In fact, with no neighbours at all, you don't have to worry about anyone cramping your style with their stifling suburban behaviour.

Damji herself has found it the ideal spot for writing and thinking, and it was here that she got the inspiration for her latest venture, the new Indobrit magazine, which she edits. She purchased her distinctive Rapunzel-like tower two years ago and admits it is a bit sad selling up and leaving. "We rented the place for a year before we decided to buy it. But now it is not really big enough for a growing family."

She adds that it is a bit difficult keeping lively six-year-old Imran and adventurous 15-month-old Marina in check, as they are at "that deadly age where they start walking into stuff. It is okay in London, but the stairs and stone floors here are not particularly small-child friendly."

Kazuri stretches over four storeys and measures nearly 1500 square feet, with virtually one capacious room per layer. The ground floor consists of a spacious kitchen/breakfast room, the first floor a generous sitting room, while the top two levels each hold a large bedroom with adjoining bathrooms. There is a row of windows running all the way round the very top of the tower which provides a prized viewing gallery from the top bedroom. As well as overlooking farmland, Damji enjoys watching people hang- and para-glide.

When Damji fell in love with Kazuri to use as a sanctuary away from her busier prime residence on the capital's Kings Road, she inherited a tower in need of some TLC. "It had a yellow kitchen and yucky blue carpet," she recalls. "The previous owner did do some work, but ran out of money when it came to the bathrooms. We put in a wet room - one that works properly and there is under-floor heating, which is bliss."

Damji was keen to extend the recent renovations to a specially shaped conservatory with satellite walkways, but it was not to be. Steven Moore, the agent from Lane Fox's Winchester office who is selling Kazuri, says it might be tough to get planning permission to add on. "It is on the edge of the proposed South Downs National Park, which could limit any extensions," he says. "But it does sit in just under a quarter of an acre of land and has panoramic views over the countryside." Moore believes the quirky folly is "absolutely perfect for a weekender," as the A3 is just down the road and only about an hour and a half from London.

Kazuri is about two miles from the extremely picturesque village of East Meon, with shops and a friendly local pub. The market town of Petersfield is around four miles away, and has a Waitrose, a monthly farmers' market and a Robert Dyas hardware emporium, for all those DIY-ers who might want to make their mark on the former purported kiln. There is also a mainline rail station from Petersfield, serving London's Waterloo.

Both Moore and Damji think it will take the right person to come along and see the fascination behind owning their own rather whacky tower. And buyer beware - Damji is not prepared to sell to just anyone brandishing a fat chequebook. "When the tower was on the market with a previous agent, I was reluctant to sell it to a horrible banker person who came along. The agent thought I was completely mad and he was absolutely appalled. I know I shouldn't get emotional, but it is hard to just switch off and pretend I don't care about the place. They say you don't really own your property and you are only looking after it. But I can't help feeling some attachment to Kazuri."

Perhaps the answer is to mosey along to the cinema and catch a showing of I Capture the Castle, the recent film starring Bill Nighy as a writer with serious writer's block. He rents a castle - not unlike Kazuri in form, but minus the moat - and the family suffer the vagaries of damp and cold in the hope of their father getting his inspiration back. After stubbornly tapping out "the cat sat on the mat, the cat sat on the mat" on his typewriter, it takes virtual imprisonment for him to regain his imagination and livelihood.

For those romantics among you, perhaps Kazuri is the spot to write that great British novel, compose that symphony or create that contemporary Turner Prize entry destined to lift you to stardom and a place in the new Saatchi gallery.

For the less ambitious, maybe this is simply a good place to recharge dwindling batteries depleted by the stresses of 21st-century life. Either way, you are guaranteed interesting dinner-party conversation when you reveal you are buying one of the more novel properties currently on the market where you can pretend to be king of your own castle.

Kazuri is reduced from £450,000 to £425,000 and is available through Lane Fox's Winchester office, 01962 869999.

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