An Egyptian Revival-style home on the banks of the river Thames is on the market for $3 million.
The two-story home stands out on its street, which is dominated by brick and flint buildings.
The water channel in the home's garden represents the Nile, and it's guarded by Sphinx sculptures.
When Christopher McCall and his wife Henrietta set out to build a house in the English countryside, they had something special in mind — they wanted an Egyptian Revival-style mansion.
"My wife is an Egyptologist, and I'm very interested in all things Egyptian," Christopher McCall, the homeowner, told Insider. "For some time we had been commissioning things such as silver and jewelry in the Egyptian Revival style, and we decided that we ought to try and experiment with a house."
That's how the couple ended up commissioning John Outram, a British postmodernist architect known for his brightly colored buildings, to bring their vision to life.
"John Outram had a fascinating involvement in some industrial buildings but has done very little residential," listing agent Nick Warner with Knight Frank told Insider. "I think this was one of very few houses that he was commissioned to create."
And it's the last thing you'd expect to see along the banks of the river Thames in the market town of Wallingford: The two-story home, known as Sphinx Hill, features strong Egyptian iconography and symbolism.
There's a mix of old and modern architecture along the street —including English houses that date back a few hundred years — but none like anything like Sphinx Hill, Warner said.
"The one thing it doesn't look like is any other house around here. There's a lot of brick and flint work in the area," McCall said.
After living in the home for 23 years, the McCalls have decided it's time to move on. They're planning to relocate to Henley-upon-Thames, a town that's 30 minutes away, and they've listed Sphinx Hill for £2.5 million, or $3 million.
"We're heartbroken to leave," McCall said. "We're getting old and we have no children. That's also probably why we indulged ourselves."
This is the first time the couple has put the house up for sale since it was completed in 1999, Warner said.
Detached houses in Wallingford sold at an average price of £853,945 over the last year, per data from real-estate platform Rightmove.
There are currently 46 detached properties for sale in the area, with prices that range from £400,000 to £4 million. Sphinx Hill, with its £2.5 million price tag, is on the pricier end of the spectrum.
Inside, the McCalls have amassed an extensive collection of Egyptian Revival-style furniture. Some are antiques, while others were commissioned from craftsmen.
There's one piece of furniture that McCall loves in particular — the dining set.
"There's a table by Charles Jencks, and it fits the dining room absolutely perfectly," McCall said. "We've had so many happy evenings around that dining table with friends, so I suppose that's probably the one thing I care about most."
The listing price does not include the furniture in the house, Warner said.
Every detail of the house was carefully designed in line with the Egyptian Revival theme, right down to the scarab beetle door handles.
The scarab beetles are depicted rolling a ball of dung, the Egyptian symbol for time, McCall said: "The Egyptians had to work out how the sun came up every day, and their idea was that it was a scarab beetle rolling the sun from day to day."
Outram, the architect, made the scarab door handles out of plaster. He put it in the fridge during construction, which nearly led to an accident, McCall said: "One member of the team thought they were made of cheese and was about to eat them."
McCall's favorite part of the house is the color scheme, although he admits it took him a while to warm up to the idea of living in such a boldly colored home.
"We gave Outram a free hand with the color and our initial reaction was, 'We can't live with this,'" McCall said. But one day later, the couple changed their mind.
Looking back, there's only one color he would change in the entire place.
"And that is the white ceiling of my own study, which I chose," McCall said. "John got everything marvelously right."
There are three bedrooms in the house, and all of them are on the second floor.
Warner, the listing agent, believes the property will appeal to those who are looking for something unusual.
Due to the number of rooms, he added that it's probably going to be "best suited to a single buyer, a couple, or a small family."
Even the three bathrooms in the house follow the Egyptian Revival theme, with blue mosaic wall tiles that resemble flowing water.
The process of designing the home was smooth because Outram was open to listening to the couple's thoughts even though he had his ideas, McCall said.
He said there's usually a three-step process that he and his wife experience when commissioning items.
"When we say to someone, 'Will you do something in the Egyptian style?' They look at us with horror and say 'What?'" McCall said. "And then the second stage is 'I could do something.' The third stage, which is the vital one, is when they start smiling because then you know that they're going to enjoy it themselves."
The house has a black indoor pool that's accented with a few white tiles. McCall said adds an "Art Deco feel" to the place.
"My wife always thought that pools should be black for Egyptian mythological reasons," he added. "When I think of the house, I say it isn't a family house by any stretch of the imagination. It's a work of art for living in."
The house faces the Thames. Outside, in the garden, there's a water channel — which was designed to represent the Nile — that leads from the house to the river.
There are three waterfalls on the channel, each of which is guarded by a pair of Sphinxes, McCall said: "The Nile was the crucial thing for Egyptian civilization. Without the Nile flooding, there would've been no Egypt."
McCall said the house attracts a lot of attention from people passing by on the Thames.
"When we were first here, we had a boat that went by," McCall said. "They looked up and saw the house, turned around in the circle, and someone fell overboard."
McCall hopes the next owner of the house will love it as much as he and his wife did — and that they won't want to change it.
"It's a funny thing. You do build more than just a house, you build something which you feel secure in," McCall said. "Part of the fun for us is that we do literally feel at home in this rather odd folly."
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