architecture, Folly, garden, Grotto, Pagoda, pyramid, Summerhouse, Temple

The Last of Uptake: a book of folly and follies

In the early 1940s the artist Rex Whistler completed the illustrations for a book in his breaks from training with the Welsh Guards, working on the drawings in the army huts where he was stationed. The book was The Last of Uptake by Simon Harcourt-Smith, and the reviews agreed that here was ‘the perfect blend of artist and writer’.

architecture, belvedere, Cumbria, eyecatcher, Folly, museum, Observatory, Tower

Braystones Tower, or Watson’s Folly, Braystones, Cumbria

In the late 19th century Braystones was a peaceful hamlet close to the Cumberland coast with views out across the Irish Sea. It was here that William Henry Watson built a tower to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Half a century later, the view would change dramatically: were one able to climb the tower today the eye would be first caught by the great mass that is the Sellafield Nuclear Plant.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, landscape, Northamptonshire, Orangery, sham castle, Tower

A Novel Discovery: J.L. Carr and Northamptonshire landscape ornaments

J.L Carr’s novel A Month in the Country won the Guardian Prize for Fiction in 1980. It is a short novel which tells the gentle and very moving story of two men re-establishing their lives after the horrors of serving in the First World War. It is a firm favourite of The Folly Flâneuse, and she was fascinated to discover recently that Carr was also an amateur artist, and his subjects were usually the buildings of his adopted county of Northamptonshire. His volumes of sketches and paintings include a number of architectural curiosities, accompanied by captions that reveal his warm sense of humour.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, North Yorkshire, Temple

The Rotunda, Leases Hall, near Bedale, North Yorkshire (and its travels)

In the 18th century, travellers on the Great North Road were able to enjoy a view of the ‘small neat house’ that was Leases Hall as they passed by in their carriages. Today, it’s not so easy to dawdle and appreciate ones surroundings, as the Great North Road has been superseded by the 6 lanes of the busy A1(M). But if you are quick, you can snatch a glimpse of a small mound which was once topped by a little rotunda.

architecture, belvedere, East Riding of Yorkshire, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Summerhouse, Temple, Tower

Carnaby Temple, Boynton Hall, near Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire

‘An ill-treated folly’, wrote folly supremo Barbara Jones of the Carnaby Temple in 1953. The late 18th century landscape ornament, on high land above Boynton Hall, was by then disused and dilapidated, but remarkably intact considering the years of neglect. And so it remains.

architecture, Column, eyecatcher, landscape, Monument, wiltshire

Maud Heath, Nikolaus Pevsner, and Wiltshire

Photograph courtesy of Sandy Osborough.

The arrival of an updated volume in the Buildings of England series is always a cause for celebration. Better known simply as ‘Pevsners’, after Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-1983), the author of the earliest volumes, the books are regularly revised. The latest volume to be painstakingly brought up to date covers the county of Wiltshire, and is the work of Julian Orbach. The first edition of the Wiltshire volume appeared in 1963, and was close to Pevsner’s heart, as he had a home in Clyffe Pypard where he and his family spent much of their time: his dedication calls Wiltshire ‘the county of the cottage’.

architecture, belvedere, Column, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Monument, Northumberland, Observatory, Tower

The Peace Column, Swansfield House, Alnwick, Northumberland

On the edge of Alnwick, in Northumberland, stood Swansfield House, an elegant villa that in the late 18th century was home to Henry Collingwood Selby (1748-1839), agent to the 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland of Alnwick Castle. Following the lead of his monument-building patrons, he embellished his small estate with a tower, a column, and a curious gothic structure.