In a field close across the road from the principal entrance to Hodnet Hall in Shropshire are what appear to be the remains of a classical temple. Three Ionic columns are intact, two of which support a fragment of pediment, and a fourth pillar is in ruins. But whilst the columns are Georgian in date, this is not the ruin of an 18th century landscape ornament, for the eye-catcher was only erected in the 1960s.
Duke of Sutherland Obelisk, Lilleshall, Shropshire.
In July 1833 the 1st Duke of Sutherland died. Tenants on his estates in Staffordshire (Trentham), Scotland (Dunrobin) and Shropshire quickly made plans to commemorate the man they considered a benevolent landlord – according to the inscriptions that is: the Duke was not quite as revered as the tributes might suggest. In Shropshire the tenants on the Lilleshall estate decided to erect an obelisk on Lilleshall Hill, high above the village, and by November the foundation stone had been laid. By the end of the century the obelisk had been struck by lightning (twice) and had caused some embarrassment for the editor of a local paper.
McCaig’s Folly, Oban, Argyll
In the last years of the 19th century John Stuart McCaig decided to erect a monument on a hill overlooking Oban. Whilst a pillar of the local community, McCaig did not choose a column or obelisk, but instead a colossal circular wall, pierced with gothic windows, giving magnificent views of the harbour and out to sea.
Monumenta Romana and the Belvedere, Waldershare, Kent
In the 1720s Sir Robert and Lady Furnese erected a vast garden building at Waldershare Park, their seat in Kent, which became known as the Belvedere. 300 years later a diminutive structure, the Monumenta Romana, has appeared in its shadow
In 1950 Barbara Jones sent this feline-themed Christmas card to her fortunate friends. Christmas Day was an auspicious date for the artist and writer, for it was also her birthday: Barbara Mildred Jones was born on 25 December 1912.
Obelisk to Nelson, Swarland, Northumberland
Alexander Davison (1750-1829) of Swarland Park, near Felton in Northumberland, erected this obelisk to Nelson in 1807. A closer look at the inscription reveals that he was not only celebrating the admiral’s victory at Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, but more particularly their personal friendship. Davison had made a fortune supplying the government during the wars with America and France, but he was later charged with ‘public peculation’ – in other words the court believed he had his hand in the till.
Miniature and monumental
The Folly Flâneuse is busy pottering around the country in search of temples and towers to fill these pages. Meanwhile, here is a brief look at two very different landscape features: one on a miniature scale and one monumental, one in a tranquil English garden, and one on a Bulgarian hilltop.
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.
The Water Tower, Bosworth Park, Leicestershire
Approaching the pretty little town of Market Bosworth from the east, the eye is caught by a richly-coloured red brick tower emerging from the trees. Approaching, it becomes apparent that the tower stands in the grounds of Bosworth Hall, now a hotel, and that the tower and a curious freestanding stone doorway are the surviving elements of a very attractive kitchen garden.
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.