architecture, Banqueting House, belvedere, Carmarthenshire, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, Monument, Observatory, Tower

The Nelson Tower, aka Paxton’s Tower, Llanarthney, Carmarthenshire

High above the valley of the River Towy stands a sturdy, and seemingly invincible, tower. It was built to commemorate Admiral Lord Nelson, but within a century it was falling into decay, and it only narrowly escaped conversion into a cowshed.

architecture, belvedere, Cumbria, eyecatcher, Folly, museum, Observatory, Tower

Braystones Tower, or Watson’s Folly, Braystones, Cumbria

In the late 19th century Braystones was a peaceful hamlet close to the Cumberland coast with views out across the Irish Sea. It was here that William Henry Watson built a tower to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Half a century later, the view would change dramatically: were one able to climb the tower today the eye would be first caught by the great mass that is the Sellafield Nuclear Plant.

architecture, belvedere, Column, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Monument, Northumberland, Observatory, Tower

The Peace Column, Swansfield House, Alnwick, Northumberland

On the edge of Alnwick, in Northumberland, stood Swansfield House, an elegant villa that in the late 18th century was home to Henry Collingwood Selby (1748-1839), agent to the 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland of Alnwick Castle. Following the lead of his monument-building patrons, he embellished his small estate with a tower, a column, and a curious gothic structure.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Northumberland, Observatory, Summerhouse

Ratcheugh Observatory, Longhoughton, Northumberland

A prominent feature in the extensive demesne of Alnwick Castle is the Observatory on Ratcheugh Crag, a ‘stupendous and romantic rock’. The building was one of a number of landscape features planned by Hugh and Elizabeth, 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, in the 1770s, but the sham-ruined eye-catcher was not completed until after her death.

architecture, belvedere, Dovecote, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape, North Yorkshire, Observatory, Tower

Oliver Ducket, Richmond, North Yorkshire

Photo January 2021 courtesy of Nigel Tooze.

Just outside Richmond in Yorkshire is the Aske estate. The grounds were landscaped by successive owners in the 18th century, and various ornaments added to the park. The most curious is Oliver Ducket*, a folly high above the park with many a tale attached.

architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, Gloucestershire, Observatory, Tower, Worcestershire

Guy’s Folly, or The Round Tower, Icomb, Gloucestershire

Undated postcard of Icomb Tower, courtesy of a private collection.

The Round Tower, aka Guy’s Folly, stood on high ground to the west of what is now the A424 between Stow on the Wold and Burford. Sadly, this lovely little folly was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a B.B.C. transmission mast. Both Napoleon and Kitchener make an appearance in its rather hazy history…

eyecatcher, Northumberland, Observatory, Tower

Sharp’s Folly, Whitton, Rothbury, Northumberland

The Revd Dr Thomas Sharp (1693-1758) was a son of Dr. John Sharp, Archbishop of York. He followed his father into an ecclesiastical career and became Archdeacon of Northumberland, Prebendary of Durham and Rector of Rothbury. During his incumbency in Rothbury he built this tower as an observatory, and to create employment for the local population.