1974: Tower House - built for the Stars

Evening Argus December 13 1974

Man who built for the stars…


There was no doubt in the eyes of Mr George Knott. They were definitely starry. But when he moved to the Tower House at Cuckfield he must have been over the moon. It all happened last century and Mr Knott was, of course, an astronomer.


This was eons before Jodrell Bank and in the heyday of that peculiar and declining phenomena, the great British amateur.


Mr Knott in fact, reached the apex of a claim and was mentioned as such in a footnote to the astronomy section in an Encyclopaedia Britannica dated 1884.


‘Stretched’.


The chapter came to fruition at Tower house, a Mark II stretched version of a nearby house called Woodcroft, also still standing to this day. Mr Knott had previously rented the property and during his stay grew to love it so much that he decided to have his temporary home copied with an exact replica. He did, and Tower House rose in 1874 just a few doors away, together with everything identical, even down to the cornice mouldings, but with an improved interior and benefiting from the addition of a splendid purpose-built observation tower.


Tower House in 2022

It literally bristled with stargazing equipment. One of the chief features was a transit room, a kind of viewing area on rails. To the rails was fixed a high powered, rocksteady telescope and the idea was that rather than scanning the heavens himself the gentleman astronomer sat back, watched and let the planets do the work by coming into his view as the night skies revolved.


Movable equipment was housed at the top of the tower under the requisite dome, now replaced by a flat concrete roof.


Today the same roof sits on a tower that has a much more down-to-earth role – that of storage area for the house.

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