architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, sham castle, Worcestershire

The Ruined Castle, Hagley, Worcestershire

The Ruined Castle, Hagley. Photo courtesy of Michael Cousins.

The Ruined Castle in the grounds of Hagley Hall, near Stourbridge in Worcestershire, was built by Sir Thomas Lyttleton (1685-1751) in 1747-48 as a feature to be visited, and seen as a prospect, on a walk around his park. His eldest son, George Lyttelton (1709-1773), was probably a driving influence, and together they created one of the most perfect sham ruins in Britain.

architecture, Folly, Tower

Towers and Telecommunications: follies as ‘phone masts.

Inkberrow Folly, Worcestershire.

For centuries tall towers have been used for communicating: first via flags, beacons and semaphore, and then later by radio waves. In the late 20th century came the rapid expansion of mobile phone technology, with the service providers keen to find lofty locations to mount masts. Most are a simple metal pylon, whilst others are disguised (with varying degrees of success) as trees. And some have found a home in a folly – ancient or modern.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, staffordshire, Summerhouse, Tower

Thistleberry Castle, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

Undated photograph courtesy of Brampton Museum, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council

Thistleberry House (aka Thistlebury) was the home of Samuel (1767-1838) and Margaret Mayer (?-1859). Samuel Mayer was a tanner and currier, and town dignitary, who was elected Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1833. He is said to have erected this pretty tower in his grounds in the first decades of the 19th century.

architecture, church, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Scotland, structure

The Rose Walk, Jupiter Artland, near Wilkieston, Scotland

As summer turned to autumn The Folly Flâneuse was reminded of a jolly jaunt to Jupiter Artland, a sculpture garden just outside Edinburgh, on a glorious day a year ago. A highlight was Pablo Bronstein’s Rose Walk, a pair of pavilions terminating a 25 metre long rose garden, their white-painted tracery magnificent against a clear blue sky. 

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Somerset, Summerhouse, Tower

The Summerhouse, Newton Surmaville, Somerset

Newton Surmaville, just outside Yeovil, was bought by the Harbin family in the early 1600s, and they immediately set about constructing a very handsome new house. Sometime in the middle of the following century they added this summerhouse on Newton Hill, high above the house, and the story locally is that it was one of a trio of towers in the area, used by their owners to flag the message that it was time to ‘gallop over for a convivial evening’. 

architecture, Dumfries and Galloway, eyecatcher, Folly, landscape, Monument, Obelisk, Scotland

The Murray Monument, near Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway

High above the wonderfully scenic A712 from New Galloway to Newton Stewart, in the Scottish Lowlands, stands this granite monument. After a stiff climb up the hillside the views are breathtaking in both senses: the ascent will leave you short of breath, but you will gasp in awe at the views.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, Glamorgan, sham castle, Wales

Morris Castle, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

© Crown Copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales © Hawlfraint y Goron: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru

In the late 18th century industry was booming in the area around Swansea in Wales. Ever more sophisticated machines were powering the various works, and coal was required to fuel the industry. With copper works and coal mines, John Morris was a wealthy man and lived in style at the newly-built Clasemont , a grand classical mansion. The unusual structure he had constructed to house some of his workers was also eye-catching, but within decades it was dismissed as a folly.

architecture, Belgium, Bristol, Cornwall, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Mausoleum, North Yorkshire, public park

A Sham Sepulchre in Rome, & three more at home (& a detour to Brussels)

The fact that a building in the Albano hills above Rome has been known since the 18th century as the ‘so called’ mausoleum of the Horatii and Curiatii speaks volumes: it was in fact constructed on the Appian Way centuries after the legendary rival Horatii and Curiatii triplets are said to have battled for their pride and people. But the legend and the sham sepulchre must have made an impression: back home in England it inspired at least three monuments in landscape gardens.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Rustic shelter, Rutland

‘Survival is Capricious’: The Bark Temple, Exton Park, Rutland

The Bark Temple in 1955. Photo courtesy of the Hawkes Collection.

The Folly Flâneuse is putting her feet up this week, and handing over to her very good friend The Garden Historian. As guest contributor he reveals the history of the lovely, but now lost, timber temple at Exton Park.

In 1953, when Barbara Jones coined the opening words ‘survival is capricious’ for her account of the Bark Temple in Follies & Grottoes, she was probably unaware of how prophetic they were. At the time, she mused whether it was ‘perhaps built as a band stand for dances by the lake’; yet feeling the building’s oppressiveness as it slipped into ruin, added ‘but an innocent purpose for it seems unthinkable.’ She was actually so right on the former, and so wrong on the latter.