architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, Lancashire, landscape, Tower

Hartshead Pike, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire

By Donald Judge - https://www.flickr.com/photos/donaldjudge/50758096473/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98119969 CC BY 2.0

High above Ashton, and visible from miles around, is the curious tower called Hartshead Pike. It was built in the 1860s to commemorate the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, and to honour Queen Victoria on the occasion of her son’s marriage.

architecture, belvedere, Buckinghamshire, Column, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Temple

The Column, Langley Park, Wexham, Buckinghamshire

In 1738 Langley Park was purchased by the 3rd Duke of Marlborough (1706-1758), and one of his first projects was the construction of an elegant casino with views to Windsor Castle. In the middle of the 19th century that temple was demolished, and replaced by an equally charming monumental column. That too survived for only a century, but happily a pictorial record helps tell the story.

architecture, belvedere, Dovecote, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, North Yorkshire, Observatory, Tower

Oliver Ducket, Richmond, North Yorkshire

Photo January 2021 courtesy of Nigel Tooze.

Just outside Richmond in Yorkshire is the Aske estate. The grounds were landscaped by successive owners in the 18th century, and various ornaments added to the park. The most curious is Oliver Ducket*, a folly high above the park with many a tale attached.

architecture, Folly, garden, garden history, Grotto, landscape, London

The Schweppes Grotto, Festival of Britain Pleasure Gardens, Battersea, London

In 1947, the British Government decided to mark the 100th anniversary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 with a Festival of Britain, scheduled to open 100 years to the day since the launch of the Great Exhibition, on 3 May 1951. The focus was an exhibition in London, and the area we now know as South Bank was chosen as the venue for the celebration of British achievements past, present and future. A little upriver at Battersea were the complementary Festival Pleasure Gardens. Whilst the tone on the South Bank was ‘intellectual seriousness’, at Battersea all was colour and whimsy, and a highlight was the sparkling grotto, sponsored by Schhh, you know who…

architecture, belvedere, East Sussex, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Monument, Tower

Gibraltar Tower, Heathfield Park, East Sussex

The Gibraltar Tower by Chris Broughton (1949-2015) as featured in 'Rockingham Whig Landscapes', New Arcadian Journal 71/72 (2013). Image courtesy of the New Arcadian Press.

In 1791 Francis Newbery, bought Bailey Park, an estate in East Sussex, which he renamed the Heathfield Park Estate. Almost immediately he set to work constructing this elegant tower on high ground in his park. The Folly Flâneuse has joined forces with The Garden Historian to elaborate on its history.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, Gloucestershire, Observatory, Tower, Worcestershire

Guy’s Folly, or The Round Tower, Icomb, Gloucestershire

Undated postcard of Icomb Tower, courtesy of a private collection.

The Round Tower, aka Guy’s Folly, stood on high ground to the west of what is now the A424 between Stow on the Wold and Burford. Sadly, this lovely little folly was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a B.B.C. transmission mast. Both Napoleon and Kitchener make an appearance in its rather hazy history…

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Northumberland, sham castle, Summerhouse

Starlight Castle, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland

Starlight Castle is a folly on the grand Seaton Delaval estate close to the Northumberland coast. Today only a small section of wall survives, and historic photographs and postcards show it already in ruins a century ago. It was probably built by Sir Francis Delaval (1727-1771) in the middle of the 18th century. The story goes that Delaval wagered he could build a castle overnight, and this was the result.

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Best Wishes for Christmas from The Folly Flâneuse

Codger Fort (folly) in the snow cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Andrew Tryon - geograph.org.uk/p/3661902

I could wish to lounge about the Country in Search of Antiquity, and the Beauties of Nature: finding myself at an Inn, free, unembarrassed.
John Byng, 1789

Byng’s words were written in a different context, but how relevant they seem after a year of lockdowns which ended in tiers.

Thank you to everyone who has helped The Folly Flâneuse in 2020. With travel curtailed, and archives and museums closed, research has been something of a challenge, and the range of potential sites rather limited. I am therefore hugely grateful to all those who have given permission to use images, and helped with information to fill the gaps.

So until 2021, here is Codgers Fort, on the Wallington estate in Northumberland, one of the first follies to capture the attention of the Folly Flâneuse in her formative years. The image is courtesy of the wonderful geograph.org.uk project, which aims to collect photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland.

I hope 2021 brings you good news, the chance to see family and friends, opportunities to travel and explore, and above all good health.

The Folly Flâneuse is taking a short break and will be back in the New (and hopefully much improved) Year.