architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Somerset, Summerhouse, Tower

The Summerhouse, Newton Surmaville, Somerset

Newton Surmaville, just outside Yeovil, was bought by the Harbin family in the early 1600s, and they immediately set about constructing a very handsome new house. Sometime in the middle of the following century they added this summerhouse on Newton Hill, high above the house, and the story locally is that it was one of a trio of towers in the area, used by their owners to flag the message that it was time to ‘gallop over for a convivial evening’. 

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Rustic shelter, Summerhouse, Temple, Tower

Pavilions in Peril part II: Persisting in Peril

In 1987 Save Britain’s Heritage, the charity which campaigns to save historic buildings from needless destruction, published Pavilions in Peril, a report into the great number of garden buildings in Britain that faced an uncertain future. In drawing attention to historic buildings that are vacant and whose future is uncertain, the charity hoped to identify new owners able to repair and/or find a new use for the structures, thus securing their future. 33 years after that report was written The Folly Flâneuse is delighted to write that there have been some fabulous restorations (see link below to an earlier post), but read on for the not-so-good news…

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, Lancashire, landscape, Observatory, Summerhouse

The Observatory, Haigh Hall, Wigan, Lancashire

On the edge of the town of Wigan stands Haigh Hall, described in 1745 as a ‘good old house and wood in a very pretty situation’. On rising ground above Haigh Hall (pronounced Hay) there once stood a substantial landscape feature which housed an observatory. A pair of paintings with an interesting history help tell the tale. 

architecture, belvedere, Cumbria, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Summerhouse, Tower

Pepperpot, Akay, Sedbergh, Cumbria

Sedbergh sits in that part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park which is actually in modern day Cumbria, although historically the town was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. This little summerhouse now belongs to Sedbergh School, which was established in the town in 1525, and their charitable foundation recently led a restoration project to restore the building for community use.

architecture, belvedere, Buckinghamshire, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Mausoleum, Pagoda, Suffolk, Temple, Tower

Recording Britain

The Dashwood Mausoleum, West Wycombe. Image ©fotoLibra/Scott A. McNealy.

This weekend the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Thinking of the events of 1939-45, the Folly Flâneuse was reminded of a wartime project to document the changing rural and urban face of Britain. At a time when the future seemed uncertain,  ‘Recording Britain’ commissioned artists to portray the country as it then was, creating a visual history for future generations.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, Lancashire, landscape, Summerhouse, Tower

Baby House Towers, Whalley, Lancashire (via a bit of trigonometry)

When the great folly builders of the 17th and 18th centuries were erecting statement buildings on the high points of their estates, they can little have known how useful they would be to the Board of Ordnance. The ‘Principal Triangulation of Britain’ was a trigonometric survey, begun in the late 18th century, which by determining precise coordinates of significant landmarks would enable highly accurate mapping. The main landmarks used were church spires, but ‘other remarkable objects’ were picked, and in the first decade of the 19th century over 50 towers, temples, obelisks, summer houses and follies made it into this category.

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

Brizlee Tower, Alnwick, Northumberland

Brizlee Tower. Photo' courtesy of Robin Kent Architecture and Conservation.

Brizlee Tower* stands high on Brizlee Hill, near Alnwick, and overlooks Hulne Park, a detached pleasure ground close to the Duke of Northumberland’s principal park at Alnwick Castle. It was built in the late 18th century as a prospect tower and eye-catcher, and also as an object to be visited on a drive from the castle through Hulne Park. The park was designed by ‘the inimitable Brown’, aka Capability, working with local engineers and designers, and was also home to the ruins of mediaeval Hulne Abbey, embellished and repurposed by the Duke and Duchess as a banqueting house, pleasure garden and menagerie for exotic pheasants. This is one of The Folly Flâneuse’s favourite follies: the detail is just so joyful, or as historian Alistair Rowan so wonderfully put it: ‘at Brizlee there is fantasy and flamboyance’.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, landscape, Monument, North Yorkshire, Obelisk, Tower

Lund’s Tower and Wainman’s Pinnacle, Sutton in Craven/Cowling, North Yorkshire

The Folly Flâneuse is playing safe here with the locations of these two structures, as the inhabitants of the villages of Cowling and Sutton in Craven, south of Skipton, each claim a monument as their own. Locals are at least agreed on a nickname: for very obvious reasons the tower and pinnacle are known as the Salt and Pepper Pots.