Early in 1860 the Mayor of Hull, Zachariah Pearson, gave 27 acres of land to the Hull Corporation, on condition that they made an immediate start on laying it out as a public park. Initially known as the People’s Park, it was soon renamed Pearson Park in honour of the Mayor’s munificence. It was formally opened in September 1860, and quickly became a popular destination with all the usual attractions of lake, aviary, refreshment rooms and drinking fountain. But a couple of years after opening a less common feature joined the growing list of attractions in the park: a folly in the form of a sham ruin with a rather fascinating provenance.
Tucked in the corner of a garden in the town of Frome, Somerset, stands a little tower with a conical roof topped with a pineapple. This flamboyant finial, like the rest of the folly, is the work of the talented and resourceful Nigel Day: the uppermost leaves started life as a copper hot water cylinder.
In the early years of the 18th century Sir James Tillie updated his will and included a rather mysterious instruction about his last resting place. He was to be interred ‘in such a place at Pentillie Castle as I have acquainted my dearest Wife the Lady Elizabeth Tillie with.’
On high ground above Creech Grange, near Wareham in Dorset, stands a battlemented and pinnacled arch which looks like the entrance to an estate. But no road passes through it, and the structure exists simply to catch the eye and ornament the landscape.
The Folly Flâneuse is away (in search of follies of course), so until next week here is a brief look at the very pretty Music Temple at West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, the seat of the Dashwood family.
The temple, also known as the Theatre, was designed by Nicholas Revett in the late 1770s, and sits on the largest of the three islands on the lake. Sir Francis Dashwood’s guests would have been rowed over to the island for fêtes champêtres of food, wine and music.
The Music Temple is just one of the many garden features added to the West Wycombe landscape in the eighteenth century. Some are lost, but others have been restored, or indeed rebuilt, by later generations of the family.
In 1943 Sir John Dashwood gifted West Wycombe to the National Trust, but the house remains home to the Dashwood family. The house and grounds reopen in the spring https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/west-wycombe-park-village-and-hill
There will be no lounging around for the Folly Flâneuse, who will be back next week.
APOLOGIES that there has been a glitch in the system and regular readers will receive two posts this week. If you have missed the other it is here https://thefollyflaneuse.com/bonds-folly-or-creech-grange-arch-dorset/
Alexander Davison (1750-1829) of Swarland Park, near Felton in Northumberland, erected this obelisk to Nelson in 1807. A closer look at the inscription reveals that he was not only celebrating the admiral’s victory at Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, but more particularly their personal friendship. Davison had made a fortune supplying the government during the wars with America and France, but he was later charged with ‘public peculation’ – in other words the court believed he had his hand in the till.
Overlooking the picturesque harbour of Portree, on the Isle of Skye, stands a little tower. It was built in the 1830s by Dr Alexander Macleod, a much-admired man who was known locally as An Dotair Ban, the fair-haired doctor. As well as practicing medicine, Macleod (1788-1854) was also employed as a factor to look after local estates and was respected as an engineer and land-improver.
Robert Elam bought the Woodhouse Grove estate at the end of the 18th century and set about improving his new home and laying-out new pleasure grounds. On a wooded mount, overlooking this new landscape, he erected a tall stone belvedere which survives today.
Lady Amabel Yorke was the elder daughter of Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke, and his wife Jemima Campbell, 2nd Marchioness Grey, 4th Baroness Lucas. Their family seats were Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, and Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, both of which had parks that were remodelled by Capability Brown with Amabel being privy to the design decisions. She was, then, rather well-informed on matters of landscape gardening, and her 37 volumes of diaries contain countless accounts of visits to the seats of her friends and family, where she sometimes notes follies and garden ornaments.
Islay House was known as Kilarrow House until the middle of the eighteenth century. It was given its new name by Donald Campbell the Younger after he remodelled the house in the 1760s. Four lookout towers were built on the island, and the two known simply as the East and West towers, survive today in the park.