architecture, Argyll & Bute, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Scotland, Tower

East and West Towers, Islay House, Islay, Scotland

Islay House was known as Kilarrow House until the middle of the eighteenth century. It was given its new name by Donald Campbell the Younger after he remodelled the house in the 1760s. Four lookout towers were built on the island, and the two known simply as the East and West towers, survive today in the park.

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

Penrith Beacon, Penrith, Cumbria

High on the fell above the town of Penrith stands a square stone turret which marks the site of the town’s ancient beacon. For centuries the beacon network provided an early warning system: fires burning on high ground announced the approach of the enemy. In less troubled times the little tower became a summerhouse, eye-catcher, and belvedere for the Lonsdale family of nearby Lowther Castle. Today it is a popular destination for walkers, and a symbol of the town.

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, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Tower, West Sussex

Racton Tower, Racton, West Sussex

The hamlet of Racton, in a quiet corner of West Sussex, is little more than a church and a cluster of cottages. What catches the eye is the dramatic ruin, with tapering central tower, that stands above the settlement. This is the belvedere erected by George Montagu Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, as an ornament to his Stansted Park estate.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, Kent, Temple

Jezreel’s Tower, Gillingham, Kent

The tower was hugely popular as the subject of picture postcards.

Jezreel’s Tower, which once stood on Chatham Hill in Gillingham, was one of those unfinished fantasies that became folly after their original purpose had failed. This architectural extravaganza was built as home to the ‘New and Latter House of Israel’, a religious group founded in the late 19th century which had a short and very colourful history, and left behind a unique building.

architecture, Banqueting House, belvedere, Column, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Observatory, sham castle, Tower

‘Famous Follies’: a Nineteenth Century View

In 1896 a new publication was launched in Britain. Pearson’s Magazine was a miscellany of fact and fiction, and is best known today for a landmark event of 1922: the appearance of the first ever crossword puzzle in a British publication. Only a year after it first appeared on newsstands the magazine was attracting writers of the highest calibre, including H.G.Wells whose The War of the Worlds was serialised in 1897. But of course what caught the eye of the Folly Flâneuse was an article from 1898 when Edward le Martin-Breton, wrote an illustrated article on ‘Famous Follies’.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, Sham fortification, Temple, Tower

Follies & Philately

In 1981-82 the Royal Mail issued a set of stamp books featuring follies, and Richard Downer, an artist best known for the vast number of lovely line drawings he provided for the covers of Britain’s telephone directories, was commissioned to provided the illustrations. Of the six follies featured, five survive today and are very familiar to anyone with an interest in the subject, but one was relatively obscure, and has a rather interesting history.