Country houses for sale

A beautiful houseboat for sale on the Thames, where royalty and pop stars have rubbed shoulders

Living on a houseboat on the Thames is an unbeatably romantic option for those who love life on the water, as this boat moored in Wandsworth shows.

Anyone who’s ever wandered up and down the paths at the side of the River Thames in central London can’t have failed to spot the houseboats moored at the side of the water, seemingly offering an idyllic life on the water, yet right within the Metropolis. For most of us, the sight elicits a smile and a few romantic thoughts about what that life would be like, and then we head off back to our distinctly earthbound homes.

A few people take it further and determine that they simply must live on one. And it really is just a few: there are only thought to be around 350 houseboats moored on the Thames in central London, which represents just 0.01% of the 3.5 million homes in London.  For those keen to join that small band, the appearance of this houseboat, for sale via Malverns at £1.795 million, will have them grabbing the calculator to see if they can make the sums work.

Thrown into the mix of those sums are the mooring and maintenance fees of £500 a month, which sounds steep until you hear that it includes the use of the gym, pool and underground parking on shore at Prospect Quay. And the asking price itself seems, relatively speaking, pretty reasonable given that a fairly tiny three-bed flat in nearby Battersea Power Station will about cost the same.

The man selling up is auctioneer Nick Bonham, who came here two decades ago when fate forced a change on him, as he explained to Country Life:  ‘I bought the houseboat at the time I was recently divorced back in 2001, a lifelong boater and a fairly competitive sailor with a huge fondness for anything that floats!

‘We had to do a few radical things to the boat at the onset — take away a main wall and a funny mezzanine floor and make the upper floor into one long through area, from the kitchen to the living quarters and the dining area at the end which was a bit too far from the kitchen… but it worked well.’

The boat, a converted Thames Lighter, has five bedrooms (or should we call them berths?) on the ground floor (sorry, lower deck), of which the master is an en-suite with an adjacent study. Upstairs there is a a huge reception/dining room plus a kitchen-diner, while there’s also an upper terrace above.

If that sounds like a lot, it is. ‘It’s not a small boat,’ adds Nick — in fact there’s over 4,500 sq ft of space in total, and Nick and his second wife Sue (‘she’s pretty keen on boaty things too’) have hosted parties of 70 or so many times. They once squeezed 100 in, but he blames his brother for that.

The guests have even included royalty from Britain and Europe — who Nick had met sailing — as well as actors, musicians and, of course, plenty of sailors.

Nick is moving on with a hint of sadness. ‘After twenty years of living onboard, Sue and I will miss the space, the location, the wonderful view and the fresh air of boat living,’ he says. ‘But time to move on to our new home.’

As to where that is? Right next to the water in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. Proof, as if it were needed, that life on the waves gets into your blood.

Nick Bonham’s houseboat in Wandsworth is for sale through Malvern’s at £1.795m — see more details and pictures.


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