architecture, bath house, Bristol, Folly, garden history, Gwynedd, Summerhouse

The Bristol Colonnade, Portmeirion, Gwynedd

When Barbara Jones published Follies and Grottoes in 1953, she made no mention of the coastal village that architect Clough Williams-Ellis had been creating at Portmeirion since 1925. Reviewing the book for the Times Literary Supplement, Laurence Whistler thought this was a ‘curious’ omission as he believed the whole conception could be described as folly.

architecture, garden history, Monument, Obelisk, public park, Worcestershire

Earl of Plymouth Monument, Bromsgrove Lickey, Worcestershire

In 1833 Other Archer Windsor, 6th Earl of Plymouth, died. Almost immediately there were calls to erect a monument in his honour, and a public subscription was raised. With funds in place, the foundation stone was laid in May 1834. The chosen site was on Bromsgrove Lickey, a prominent eminence which would ensure that the obelisk would be an ornament to the landscape and visible from miles around.

Arch, architecture, Cleveland, country house, Dovecote, garden history, landscape, landscape garden, North Yorkshire, Temple

The Pigeon Cote, Kirkleatham, North Yorkshire

In 1934 a local paper published a ‘Cleveland Ramble’ featuring a walk around Kirkleatham village. The author looked across the park to the ‘elaborate castellated pigeon-cote’ which was described as a ‘startling example’ of the extravagant ‘pseudo Gothic craze’ of the later 18th century. Only a couple of decades after this account was published the castellations were gone, and the pigeon cote was cracked and crumbling, and soon to disappear.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Fife, Folly, garden history, Rustic shelter, Summerhouse, Tower

Cullaloe Temple and Tower, near Aberdour, Fife

In the 19th century Cullaloe stone was much in demand as a building material: it was widely used in Scotland and England, and exported to Europe and as far as the Caribbean. But in the shadow of the quarries is an abandoned pleasure ground that is home to this beautifully constructed little temple – a perfect demonstration of the colour and quality of the stone. At the other end of the grand terrace on which it stands is a curious rustic tower.

architecture, belvedere, country house, garden history, landscape garden, Monument, Obelisk, Tower, Worcestershire

Leicester Tower and Obelisk, Evesham, Worcestershire

The Battle of Evesham took place on a site near the town in 1265, but it was several centuries later that two memorials to the hero of the hour, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, were erected. In 1842 Edward Rudge, a civic figure, botanist and antiquary built a tower and obelisk in the grounds of his home, and dedicated them to the battle and the earl.

architecture, country house, Essex, eyecatcher, Folly, Mausoleum, Tower

Cranbrook Castle, or Raymond’s Folly, Ilford, Essex

Card posted in 1910. Courtesy of a private collection.

In 1765 Charles Raymond built a tower on his estate at Valentines in Ilford, Essex. Money was not an issue, for Raymond had grown wealthy in business, and in particular shipping, having started his career in the employ of the East India Company. The prominently-placed sham fortification was an eye-catcher that announced his status to all who passed by. It was intended as his family mausoleum, but things didn’t quite go to plan.

architecture, Borders, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, Scotland, sham castle

Hume Castle, Borders

Hume Castle stands on a prominent site, visible for miles round. Initially, this gave it great defensive strengths, but by the later 18th century the ‘considerable eminence’ was thought the perfect site for an eye-catcher. The ruins of the ancient fortification were pulled down and the stone reused to create a curiously crenellated sham castle.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, Mausoleum, sham castle, Tower, Well

Follies and Freaks: a 1908 view.

In 1908 T.W. Wilkinson submitted an article on ‘Remarkable Follies’ to Wide World Magazine. This popular publication was launched in 1898 and was aimed at men, and in particular what one writer has called ‘armchair adventurers’. It specialised in true-life tales of derring-do with titles such as ‘The Underground Pirates’ and ‘Across Africa by Boat’. One wonders what the readership made of Wilkinson’s article: exciting as follies are, they don’t quite have the drama of ‘A Subterranean Duel’.