During the time when Sandfield Tower was at the mercy of the passing trade of people, the side wall to the property was missing, as was the entire front window board and this is where most people would climb in to survey – or in most cases – damage the property further. Wanting to survey the interior before the building was demolished, this was the only way to capture the interior brickwork and design on a cold winters morning. It was achieved with two thoughts in mind. One of utmost safety with suitable protective gear, hard hat, torches, mobile and notice of where you are, but also to only take photographs and leave footprints.
The floor was badly rotten in places and the constant rain made things interesting, but this was the only way to discover the inside of Sandfield Tower – perhaps for the last time before the building was to be demolished.
But going back in time, the entrance will have taken you off the road in to the sweeping long driveway up to the main door. One would walk up the stone steps and enter main door and find themselves in the porch way. Here, beautiful plasterwork is present over the inside of the door and on every wall. Above you is a white period ceiling with intricate plasterwork.
"...the splendor of the open fire warming the house up for its grand party being held for the building is completed...."
At this point, one can turn left in to the left-hand side of the building, or turn right towards the original staircase and rear of the property. Turning left brings one in to a small but spacious room, and a doorway leading to the next room on the right. A fireplace in the left hand, again to warm the room in the side corner, but the attention turns to the large window that looks out towards the side of the property.
This is a good 8-ft window, four panes of glass and surrounded by original paneling around the entire window. With the sun streaming in and lighting up the whole of the white washed plasterwork on the wall, it is a nice setting as a private room.
One leaves the room through the centre door and finds themselves in the hallway. Here it is possible to go up the stairs on the right hand side, cross the hallway to the rear of the front room, or turn left and head down the hallway towards the right hand side of the house. Taking a left turn, there are steps that lead down to the basement, another entrance to the front room, plus three more exits.
The left exit leads to a small room at the rear of the house, for the use of the kitchen area. The doorway straight ahead leads to the outbuildings, and the doorway to the right leads to the side exit to the front of the house.
The left hand side door being arched, the centre door being of straight topped, and a beautiful plaster archway leads to the front side exit. Leading towards the front side exit, is another side room, which is used for a side cloakroom. Returning to the hall, one can enter the front main room through the doorway below the stairs. Here, this room is again very spacious as with the back room.
There are three exits to the room, the doorway just entered, the door in to the hallway and the side door from the porch area. This room takes up the right hand side of the front of the house and is very bright due to the three large windows at the front of the room. Here is also a fireplace on the outside wall to keep the large room warm. The internal decoration is grand with high ceilings and painted plasterwork on the walls. This is an excellent front room and provides good views over the entrance drive and the main road, and is always kept warm by the open fire.
As one can see, the ground floor of the property is in a very poor condition. Little parts of the ceiling of each room remains and rain is getting in from the holes in the roof. No internal decoration really remains apart from the small alcove, part ceiling and wooden panel surrounds on the rear and side windows. The ground floor is at the mercy of pigeon droppings, which have rotted the floor in many parts of the building, making it very unsafe with the cellar system directly below.
I was recently contacted by a lady who used to go to Sunday School when the building was used by the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist in the 1970's and she has kindly given me her words of a guided tour of the building from her memory. This is a fascinating read to hear of someone who has been in the building when it was in full use:
As you went in through the front door, straight ahead was the foyer, with two alcoves, one to the left and one to the right. We never really knew what they were for. Then to the left was an archway and another hallway with a fireplace in it to the left and straight ahead a large window looking out to the garden. There was an entrance to the Church auditorium at that point. There were two doors one at the back and one at the front.
The were windows down all one side and a platform at the front, with two podiums and an organ in between them. There were seats down either side and an aisle down the middle. If you went out the door at the top on the left side it brought you back into the foyer.
Opposite was a room which was at the front of the building, which was partly used as a cloakroom, with a partition down the middle. The other part of the room was a meeting room and had a fireplace in it. If you continued past the staircase on the ground floor was what led to the back stairs and the living quarters of the Wilson family who used to live there as caretakers.
The staircase had a smooth wooden bannister with a curve at the bottom and at the top was a doorway straight ahead and one to the left. Straight ahead was the Sunday School, it had a foyer area, and then to the right was an archway and there were three rooms off it. A large room on the left acted as the Sunday School, the middle room was a small room for the Soloist before the service to prepare, and to the right a large room which acted as a room for administration, it contained a large board table and a gestetner machine for copying documents.
Back into the Sunday School foyer opposite the entrance was a room which acted as a Sunday School classroom, and to the left of the foyer was a small room which acted as a nursery. It was directly under the tower.
Going back to the top of the stairs was a doorway to the left which led to two rooms off a corridor, both had gas fires in them. The corridor led to the back stairs and the stair case up to the tower which I never went up.