The man, who is believed to have been prescribed Prozac for depression, was reported missing by his family, and police feared for his welfare after his car was found abandoned in Cowleaze Wood car park on Tuesday at the start of the Chiltern Sculpture Trail.

Scores of policemen and volunteers from Bucks Search and Rescue (BSR) team scoured the woods the next day and discovered his body at around midday on an upper platform of a water tower that was just visible from the road.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: “The death is not being treated as suspicious at this time.”

Another policeman said some old rope had been found at the top of the tower, which looked as though it had been pulled taut. BSR spokesman Keith Carmichael said it had been a labour intensive search.

He said: “Most despondents or potential suicide victims in these cases are usually found within 400 to 500 yards of their cars.

“He was not and in this case we had an 80-acre woodland to try and cover. Good search practice requires you to have a man looking every ten yards and the police resources just couldn’t cope so we were called in to help with another team from Berkshire.”

BSR was responsible for finding Dr David Kelly’s body in 2003 and ten volunteers from BSR were called away from their day jobs on Wednesday to help with the search. Four members from SEBEV Search and Rescue Team also attended.

Mr Carmichael continued: “It was very unusual. Most despondents like to find somewhere calm and peaceful to spend their last moments, not usually by the roadside in public view.”

A spokesman from Thames Valley Water said it was very rare for people to gain access to their water towers because they are enclosed by high wire fencing.

He said it was not electrified because the company would not gain planning permission for it in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.