Sundorne House in Shropshire was the seat of the Corbet family and the estate included the picturesque ruin of Haughmond Abbey. In 1774 John Corbet added a dramatic eye-catcher to the ensemble – a sham castle on the summit of Haughmond Hill.
The Spectacle, Boughton Park, Northamptonshire
William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford (1722-1791) had his principal seat at Wentworth Castle near Barnsley in Yorkshire, and Boughton in Northamptonshire was where he broke the journey to the social and political hub of London. Both estates were embellished with temples, sham churches and castles, obelisks and archways, including this castellated curiosity at Boughton.
Sir Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren died 300 years ago on 8 March 1723. The Folly Flâneuse thought she would mark the anniversary by looking at a two examples of his work that served as garden ornaments – once surplus to their original requirements.
Holly Hill Tower, Hernhill, Kent
Deep in woodland on Holly Hill, near the village of Hernhill in Kent, stands a bedraggled belvedere. It was built by Edwyn Sandys Dawes sometime in the late 19th century, as a prospect tower with a ‘view unsurpassed in the county’.
The Summerhouse, North Seaton Hall, Northumberland
North Seaton Hall stood in the hamlet of the same name, just inland from Newbiggin by the Sea on the Northumberland coast. The house and ancillary buildings were demolished in the 1960s, and the land developed for housing: only the road called ‘Summerhouse Lane’ gives a clue to a fascinating feature which once ornamented the grounds.
Pentillie Mausoleum, Saltash, Cornwall
In the early years of the 18th century Sir James Tillie updated his will and included a rather mysterious instruction about his last resting place. He was to be interred ‘in such a place at Pentillie Castle as I have acquainted my dearest Wife the Lady Elizabeth Tillie with.’
Bond’s Folly, or Creech Grange Arch, Dorset
On high ground above Creech Grange, near Wareham in Dorset, stands a battlemented and pinnacled arch which looks like the entrance to an estate. But no road passes through it, and the structure exists simply to catch the eye and ornament the landscape.
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.
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.
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.