architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, Highland, Tower

The Apothecary’s Tower, Portree, Isle of Skye

Overlooking the picturesque harbour of Portree, on the Isle of Skye, stands a little tower. It was built in the 1830s by Dr Alexander Macleod, a much-admired man who was known locally as An Dotair Ban, the fair-haired doctor. As well as practicing medicine, Macleod (1788-1854) was also employed as a factor to look after local estates and was respected as an engineer and land-improver.

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.