Early in 1860 the Mayor of Hull, Zachariah Pearson, gave 27 acres of land to the Hull Corporation, on condition that they made an immediate start on laying it out as a public park. Initially known as the People’s Park, it was soon renamed Pearson Park in honour of the Mayor’s munificence. It was formally opened in September 1860, and quickly became a popular destination with all the usual attractions of lake, aviary, refreshment rooms and drinking fountain. But a couple of years after opening a less common feature joined the growing list of attractions in the park: a folly in the form of a sham ruin with a rather fascinating provenance.
‘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.
A view of the house at Sledmere, painted in 1795, shows a classical orangery west of the kitchen garden. No trace of this building survives today but, mysteriously, another 18th century orangery can be found between the house and the stables.
In the first half of the 19th century the Airmyn estate, on a bend in the river Aire, was owned by George Percy, the 2nd earl of Beverley (1778-1867), a grandson of the 1st duke of Northumberland. He was admired as a benevolent landlord who took care of his tenants, and in 1834 he endowed the village with a Sunday School. In the mid 1860s the tenants ‘unanimously decided to erect a testimonial’ in honour of his ‘kindness and liberality’. This tribute took the form of a charming clocktower, far from folly, but an ornament to this tranquil and very pretty riverside village.
William Constable, of Burton Constable in the East Riding of Yorkshire, died in 1791. A condition of his will was that his heir should rebuild the ‘family vault’, then found at nearby Halsham church. The new building was to be more than just a repository for the remains of generations of Constables, it was also intended as a bold statement of the importance of the ancient family, and an ornament to the estate.
In 1829 William Bettison Esq. purchased a country retreat on Newbegin in Hornsea, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. From here, he commuted by phaeton to Hull, where during his career he was owner of the Humber Street Brewery and proprietor of the Hull Advertiser. The house came with ‘extensive Pleasure Grounds’ and some time around 1844 he constructed this curious tower built of what are called treacle bricks, over-baked rejects from the kiln.