architecture, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, North Yorkshire, sham church

Yorke’s Folly, or The Stoops, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire

High above the town of Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale stand two strange stone pillars which look like the remnants of some ancient ecclesiastical edifice. Until 1893 there was a third, and they were known as the Three Stoops, or alternatively as Yorke’s Folly after their begetter, John Yorke. They are often dated to around 1800, but they are actually some decades earlier, being constructed at the height of the Georgian vogue for mock ruins and eye-catchers.

architecture, bridge, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Somerset

The Bath Stone Bridge, Halswell, Somerset

In 1771 the agriculturalist and country house afficionado Arthur Young visited Halswell in Somerset. He admired the house, but admitted that what ‘chiefly attracts the attention of strangers, are the decorated grounds’. Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte (1710-1785) ornamented his park with temples, rustic shelters and elegant bridges, all of which fell into disrepair, or disappeared completely, after the Second World War. Happily, recent years have seen a major programme of restoration, which continues apace.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, sham castle, staffordshire, Tower

The Round Tower, Tutbury Castle, Tutbury, Staffordshire

Tutbury Castle is best known as one of the fortifications in which Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. The ruins that stand today have been remodelled on a number of occasions since those days, and in the middle of the 18th century the motte, long since missing its genuine tower, was embellished with a sham ruined turret called the Round Tower.

architecture, belvedere, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Lodge, Norfolk, Observatory, Tower, Triumphal Arch

Westwick Arch and Obelisk, Westwick, Norfolk

This fine arch could once be found on the edge of the village of Westwick, but sadly it was pulled down as recently as 1981. Nearby, in a scrappy ribbon of woodland, stands a decrepit brick tower with a square base supporting a round shaft. It is difficult to appreciate that this remnant was once a much-admired eye-catcher and belvedere, which went by the curious title of the Westwick Obelisk.

architecture, belvedere, country house, Essex, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, Lancashire, Mausoleum, Monmouthshire, sham castle, Summerhouse

Monuments to Lost Loves

With St Valentine’s Day approaching, the Folly Flâneuse wondered which were the most romantic garden buildings. The most famous expression of love in an architectural form is surely the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favourite wife. But closer to home are three equally enchanting buildings built as monuments to lost loves – two real, and one imaginary, and each likened to the marble mausoleum in India. 

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, Grotto, hampshire, landscape, public park, Summerhouse

The Shell-House, Leigh Park, Havant, Hampshire

Sir George Staunton bought the Leigh Park estate in 1820, and set to work remodelling the house and ornamenting the park with an eclectic range of garden buildings. Many are sadly lost today, but a programme of restoration, in what is now Staunton Country Park, is bringing some of the survivors back to life. One of the loveliest of the garden ornaments is this exquisite little Shell-House.

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

Finsthwaite Tower, Water Side Knott, Newby Bridge, Cumbria

High above Newby Bridge in Cumbria (formerly Lancashire) stands Finsthwaite Tower. When first built it was a prominent landmark on a bare hill, and commanded an extensive prospect of sea, lake and mountains. The tower was built by James King of Finsthwaite House as an ornament to the landscape, and as a monument to naval prowess. And to start 2022 with some really good news, after decades of decay the tower has a new owner, and a new lease of life.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Obelisk, pyramid, South Yorkshire

The Needle’s Eye, Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire

The palatial mansion of Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham, is set in a landscape ornamented with towers and temples, pyramids and pavilions. One of the earliest is this slim, elegant structure pierced with an arch. Originally an eye-catcher, it later became an object on a drive to the house, but now once more stands alone on a swathe of green in a tranquil corner of the park.

architecture, belvedere, Dairy, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Perth & Kinross

The Dairy, Taymouth Castle, Perth & Kinross

In September 1842 the 2nd Marquis of Breadalbane and his family welcomed Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Taymouth Castle. They were greeted, with great ceremony, by pipers and by crowds of well-wishers in full highland costume, and a gun salute was fired. The Queen was charmed. During their brief stay Albert went hunting and shooting, returning with a bumper bag each evening, whilst the young monarch spent the days walking and riding in the park.