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Once upon a time — about 2,500 years ago — people in what is now Britain switched from building rectangular houses to building round houses: in many instances, small circular structures with wooden walls made of wattle and daub, no windows, a conical roof, and a single entrance. And for more than 2,500 years, from the early Bronze Age to the late Iron Age, they stuck with this circular design, even while people in the rest of Europe — or what later became Europe — lived in rectangular structures.
It was with the Roman conquest that the British, too, began to adopt rectangular house designs. But evidence of the region’s history of round construction can still be found in archeological sites all over the UK, from Dartmoor, Devon, England, to Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
In recent years, a number of replica round houses have been built. Below is one in Burwardsley, Cheshire, which is open to school groups and other visitors -
This pretty circular house in Båstad, Sweden, was on the market earlier this year -
Beautifully located just off the beach, it was apparently build decades ago as some sort of outbuilding for the neighboring Hotel Riviera. Later it was converted into a vacation home, and later still into a permanent residence. Simple, elegant, and very cool.
Somehow in putting together my list of round houses for sale I overlooked the most fabulous of them all: Seymour Harris’ Tukal, in Hampshire, England. At an asking price of £12 million (over $18 million), it is easily the world’s most expensive circular home, but unlike some of round McMansions currently on the market, it’s more than just an ostentatious display of wealth — it actually has style and daring.
Yes, it’s monstrously large — and yes, it has its own lake, 10-acre garden and private dock — but beyond the glitz are some appealing ideas about structure, transparency and the flow of space.
Designed by architect Seymour Harris in 1962 as home for himself and his wife, the house in its current iteration might be best understood as an asynchronous collaboration between Harris and architect Nic Bailey. Harris moved to the Bahamas in 1968; the house suffered through a series of bad owners and unhappy renovations, and Bailey was brought in to salvage it several years ago, when the house was bought by its current owner, Mike Browne.
You can find round and circular-form houses for sale right now in the US, UK, Australia and Canada for prices ranging from $87,500 to $10 million. On the lavish — and arguably garish — end of the spectrum, there’s this 1980s luxury villa on Hamilton Island, in Australia, and the “Corbetta Estate” in Los Altos Hills, California (which was the cooler and much more fun Corbetta Party House in a former incarnation).
Bringing up the low end of the market, at a modest 696 square feet in size, is one of the many small post-war round houses in Des Moines, Iowa.
A few other houses stand out -
- A 1961 modernist home in Highland Park, Illinois, above, is stunning. Designed by architect George Keck, the house encompasses a pool with a retractable roof.
- This mid-century modern house in Ontario, Canada, has some style. The listing photos are not great, but I can make out a nifty fireplace and a nice curving staircase.
- Everyone wants their own island, right? Especially one that’s only a half hour from Manhattan.
- Possibly designed by Gilbert Spindel, this Arkansas property has lots of potential, and comes with nearly an acre of land. (Advice to the future buyer: replace the garage with something that doesn’t clash with the house, rip out the homey, faux-colonial decor, and take some design tips from Spindel owners.)
You can also find two round houses for sale in the UK, one in Portland, Dorset, selling for £925,000, and the other in Sidmouth, Devon, selling for £849,950.
A pillar-box. A quite ordinary-looking pillar-box. Or was it? That was what Robin was to find out. And without this ordinary — or extraordinary pillar-box there could have been no story — no funny, fantastic adventures with Mr. Papingay, and the Home-made fairy, and Penny and all the rest of them.
Marion St. John Webb’s The Little Round House was originally published in 1924 in the UK; the illustrated version above came out in 1956. The book was the first of an extremely popular series of children’s stories.