Architect: C. Evelyn Simmons

The Sandcastle
Pevensey Bay, East Sussex


The Sandcastle is an incredibly rare example of a substantial Modern house directly on the sea front. It was designed in the early 1930s by the architect C. Evelyn Simmons for the actor Nicholas Prinsep and his American wife Anita Elson, one the most celebrated dancers of her day. The house has over 6,000 sq ft of internal space, which includes five bedrooms and three reception rooms and sits on approximately an acre of land. In recent years it has undergone extensive and sympathetic refurbishment. Situated directly on the East Sussex coast, residents have direct, private access to the beach (part of which is owned by the property).

The house has been designed to make the most of the sea views, with most of the rooms facing the beach. The main reception room features a wonderful, Art Deco curved window overlooking the gardens and the sea beyond. It also features, amongst other original details, an elegant fireplace. The second reception room, to the rear of the house, is a generously sized, square space with skylights that the current owners use as a library or family room. The kitchen has many restored 1930s details including the inbuilt storage and leads to a utility room on one side and the dining room to the front.

Also on the ground floor is a long bedroom wing featuring four bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms. The largest of the bedrooms, the master suite, also benefits from a dressing room. An office, laundry room, ironing room and family bathroom can also be found on the ground floor. There is a boiler room and wine cellar on the lower ground floor.

The first floor features two rooms only, a fifth bedroom (with en suite shower room) and a wonderful space originally designed as a solarium that has views up and down the bay. It could potentially be used as another reception space, a bedroom or a studio. Extensive balconies on either side of this room provide ample outdoor space at this raised level.

The gardens are among the most appealing features of this astonishing house. The current owners have had them sympathetically landscaped to include formal lawns, borders and a wonderful heated swimming pool. To the rear of the house, there are more gardens as well as a garage block.

Pevensey Bay is a small coastal settlement, part of the village of Pevensey, on the beautiful East Sussex coast between Brighton and Hastings. It has a wide shingle beach and a high street with a number of shops and services. There is also a train station that runs direct services to London in approximately 1 hr 45 mins. Faster services run to London Victoria from nearby Eastbourne in approximately 80 minutes.

There are a number of good places to eat in the area, including The Lamb Inn at Wartling and the wonderful De La Warr Pavilion in nearby Bexhill which also offers a broad range of cultural events.

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


The Sandcastle was built in 1933 – 34 to designs by the architect C. Evelyn Simmons (R.A.) for actor Nicholas Prinsep and his wife Anita Elson. It was their weekend retreat and was known as a location where extravagant parties were held with some reputedly high profile guests. Indeed it is thought that Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson used it as a secret hideaway where they could continue their controversial relationship.

Anita Elson was an American entertainer who became one of the stars of her day as a “dance sensation”. London’s National Portrait Gallery have in their collection a beautiful photograph of Elson showing her to be an elegant, exquisitely dressed woman.

Charles Evelyn Simmons (1879-1952) was a London-based architect who worked for a broad range of clients. His other projects included an impressive house in Hendon, London (now Grade II listed) and Tate & Lyle’s refinery in Silvertown.

In 1939 the house was requisitioned and became a coastal battery station before returning once again to being a private residence. The current owners have, over the past five years, worked successfully to restore what they call “the original spirit of the house”.

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