This seaview Georgian bathhouse is steeped in Tenby history - and now it could be your home

Designed by a relative of Samuel Pepys, Laston House has been a bathhouse and a photography studio.

By Chloe Shakesby   |   Property writer   |
Monday 1st August 2022 12:38 pm
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tenby bathhouse
The former Sea Water Baths were built in the 1800s and once acted as a photography studio. (Behind The Lens Media / Birt & Co )

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This apartment in a former Georgian bathhouse and photography studio has unrivalled views over North Beach - and it could now be yours.

Laston House, in Tenby, was built in 1811 for Sir William Paxstone as the Sea Water Baths and Assembly Rooms, using designs drawn by Samuel Pepys Cockerell, the architect of the unique Sezincote House in Gloucestershire and great-great nephew of diarist Samuel Pepys.

tenby bathhouse
The property sits directly over the sea. (Behind The Lens Media / Birt & Co )

The baths, which had “historical importance for the development of Tenby as a resort” according to the Welsh Government, were damaged by fire shortly after opening but were repaired within a year.

The original plans for the property show a small tearoom and two bedrooms, and stairs leading down to a lower floor where there were three hot water baths with dressing rooms, while the next floor down split into ladies’ and gentlemen’s dressings areas and cold baths.

The baths were refitted in 1837 for then-mayor C.C. Wells, and were closed and converted into a private house in 1884.

tenby bathhouse
The open plan living area looks out over the sea. (Behind The Lens Media / Birt & Co )

The house was bought by photographer Charles Smith Allen, who is renowned as the finest of Tenby’s early camera artists and built his ‘Excelsior Studios’ onto the property.

According to Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, a few surviving paper negatives show that Allen was recording Tenby in silver towards the end of the 1840s. Ahead of his time, Allen often took photographs ‘on location’, having built himself a portable, horse-drawn darkroom, and lived in Laston House until his death in 1897.

The apartment includes an open plan lounge, kitchen and dining room, which has three timber sash windows looking out over the sea, as well as three bedrooms, a bathroom and a shower room.

tenby bathhouse
The property’s private patio. (Behind The Lens Media / Birt & Co )

The property also includes a private patio terrace backing onto the building and facing the coast.

At the entrance to the building is a parapet inscribed in Greek letters ‘Thalassa kleuzei panta t’anthropon kaka’, translated as `The sea cleanses all the evils of men’ - a quote from Euridipes also used on the plaque comemmorating the Sea Water Baths.

tenby bathhouse
The plaque commemorating the history of the building. (Behind The Lens Media / Birt & Co )

The apartment is being marketed by estate agents Birt & Co for a price of £995,000.

Ben Vickery of Birt & Co commented: “We are delighted to offer a rare opportunity to purchase a beautifully decorated seafront garden flat located in a truly unparalleled position on Tenby Harbour.

“It boasts a low maintenance garden with the boundary wall on the seafront, providing spectacular views over North Beach, Monkstone Point and beyond.”

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