‘What did Delaware?’, asks the old song. Well until January 2020 one part of the state casts off its brand new jersey and dons some brand new follies. Winterthur, near Wilmington, DA., is home to a gallery, museum and library set within 60 acres of garden and surrounded by a further 1,000 acres of park. Winterthur’s founder, Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969), designed the garden with the architect Marian Coffin, an old friend from childhood. From around 1920 he embellished the estate with garden buildings relocated from nearby estates that were under threat, as well as creating his own follies from recycled architectural fragments.
Barbara Jones, the first person to write a comprehensive account of follies in Britain, saw this building and was underwhelmed. In the 1953 first edition of Follies & Grottoes she described it as ‘gutted’ and full of pigeon’s nests, and concluded that ‘no amount of bird life can divest this folly of its ordinariness’. If only she had seen it in its prime; a sketch by the itinerant artist and drawing master J.C. Nattes dated 1807 shows an enchanting little building.