architecture, country house, garden history, landscape, Monument, Northumberland, Obelisk

Obelisk to Nelson, Swarland, Northumberland

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.

architecture, Banqueting House, country house, Folly, Hertfordshire, landscape, Summerhouse, Temple

Lady Amabel and Landscape Ornament at The Grove, Hertfordshire

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.

architecture, belvedere, country house, Cumbria, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, sham castle, Summerhouse

The Old Castle, Conishead Priory, Cumbria

On a knoll in the former park of Conishead Priory, near Ulverston in Cumbria, (formerly Lancashire) stands this solitary tower. It was once part of a much larger folly, known as the Old Castle, which many took for a genuine ancient monument. Thomas Braddyll (1730-1776) erected it as an ornament to be seen from his seat at Conishead Priory.

architecture, Banqueting House, belvedere, boathouse, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Monument, Shropshire, Temple, Tower

The Tong Knoll Monument & Tower, Shropshire.

On high ground in Weston Park, ancestral seat of the earls of Bradford, stands this prospect tower. Although Weston Park is in Staffordshire, the knoll on which the tower stands is just over the border into Shropshire, and it was formerly home to another monument, allegedly built for the most repulsive of reasons. 

architecture, Banqueting House, belvedere, boathouse, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Nottinghamshire, public park, sham castle, Sham fortification, Tower

The Folly Castle and Folly Forts, Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire

Newstead Abbey is best known as the seat of the Romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, but it was equally famed in the middle of the 18th century as the home of his great-uncle, William, the 5th Baron, known as the ‘Wicked Lord’. It was William who built sham forts and castles around the estate’s Great Lake, on which sailed his fleet of boats.

architecture, belvedere, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, sussex, Tower

‘Some Sussex “Follies”: Queer Towers and their Eccentric Builders’

Such was the headline of an article in the Sussex County Magazine in 1937.  The author, William A. Bagley, was fascinated by the ‘strange towers’ that could be found ‘dotted all over the hilltops of England’. Revisiting some of the follies he described some 85 years later the Folly Flâneuse discovered that the towers have had differing histories: one is lost, some survive in much the same state as when Bagley saw them, and one is currently on the market with a multi-million pound asking price.

architecture, belvedere, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Observatory, sham castle, Somerset

Knowle Tower, Knowle Hall, Bawdrip, Somerset

The little village of Bawdrip in Somerset was once home to a rugged and romantic ruin. Standing on Knowle Hill, it was built by Benjamin Cuff Greenhill of Knowle Hall as an eye-catcher and observatory, and to add a ‘Gallic touch to the Somerset countryside’. Sadly it is long gone, but it is remembered in local legends and picture postcards.