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, Banqueting House, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Summerhouse, Tower, West Sussex

Vandalian Tower, Uppark, West Sussex

High on the Sussex Downs, near the village of South Harting, stand some curious ruins. The jagged and dilapidated stonework is all that remains of the wonderful ornate tower built by Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh of Uppark (or Up-park) in the 1770s and later known by the curious title of the Vandalian Tower.

architecture, Banqueting House, Buckinghamshire, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, sham castle, Summerhouse

Dinton Folly, Dinton, Buckinghamshire

Close to the little village of Dinton, near Aylesbury, stands an imposing 18th century folly called Dinton Castle. 250 years after it was first built it shot to fame on the TV show Grand Designs. But to mark the 200th post on these pages, the Folly Flâneuse intends to enjoy a Dinton Folly of a very different kind.

architecture, Banqueting House, belvedere, boathouse, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Nottinghamshire, public park, sham castle, Sham fortification, Tower

The Folly Castle and Folly Forts, Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire

Newstead Abbey is best known as the seat of the Romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, but it was equally famed in the middle of the 18th century as the home of his great-uncle, William, the 5th Baron, known as the ‘Wicked Lord’. It was William who built sham forts and castles around the estate’s Great Lake, on which sailed his fleet of boats.

architecture, belvedere, Dorset, eyecatcher, Folly, landscape, Observatory, Tower

Steeple Folly, The Black Tower, & Clavell Tower, Dorset: fiction and fact.

Photo' courtesy of W. Sweeney/Landmark Trust.

In the middle of the 20th century books featuring the adventures of the Lockett children captured the imaginations of young readers. One title in particular appealed to the Folly Flâneuse: what ghastly goings-on could have taken place at the ‘half completed and abandoned tower’ known as Steeple Folly? And which real clifftop folly might have been the inspiration for it?

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

Hampsfell Hospice, Cartmel, Cumbria

High above Cartmel in Cumbria (formerly Lancashire) Reverend Thomas Remington of nearby Aynsome built a small stone shelter. Remington was apparently in the habit of walking on the fell each morning, setting off early so he could watch the sun rise, and above the east-facing door he placed a Greek inscription, taken from Homer’s Odyssey, which translates as ‘Rosy-fingered Dawn’. It became known as the hospice, from the archaic definition of the word: a shelter to travellers.

architecture, belvedere, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Observatory, sham castle, Somerset

Knowle Tower, Knowle Hall, Bawdrip, Somerset

The little village of Bawdrip in Somerset was once home to a rugged and romantic ruin. Standing on Knowle Hill, it was built by Benjamin Cuff Greenhill of Knowle Hall as an eye-catcher and observatory, and to add a ‘Gallic touch to the Somerset countryside’. Sadly it is long gone, but it is remembered in local legends and picture postcards.

architecture, country house, Folly, garden history, landscape, Summerhouse, Temple, West Yorkshire

The Gothic Temple, Bramham Park, West Yorkshire

In the early 18th century Bramham Park, just south of Wetherby in West Yorkshire, was the seat of Robert Benson, 1st Baron Bingley. His laying-out of the park was summarised by Lady Oxford after her visit in 1745: ‘Lord Bingley has adorned a barren country in a most delightful manner with water and wood walks’. The next generation continued his work, and their additions included a little gothic temple which could be seen from different viewpoints in the gardens.