architecture, belvedere, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, public park, Tower, West Yorkshire

Bella Vista, Bretton Park, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Bretton Hall, near Wakefield, is now best known as the home of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where artworks have been displayed in the open air, and in purpose built galleries, since 1977. But long before these works arrived, the park was home to a collection of ornamental garden buildings, including the enchanting tiered tower called Bella Vista.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Lodge, Obelisk, West Yorkshire

Obelisk Lodge, Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire

Nostell Priory, not far from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, is a magnificent 18th century mansion built adjacent to the site of an Augustinian priory. Architect James Paine worked at Nostell for around 30 years, before Robert Adam was called in to add new wings and other works. Adam also designed one of the most luscious of lodges to be found on a country estate.

architecture, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, garden history, landscape, Monument, Triumphal Arch, West Yorkshire

Independence Day: The Arch, Parlington Park, Aberford, West Yorkshire.

Parlington Park is close to Aberford, south of Wetherby, on the old Great North Road. An architectural highlight of the landscape park is this Triumphal Arch, constructed in the early 1780s to definitively declare Sir Thomas Gascoigne’s stance on the ongoing war with America. Its inscription begins LIBERTY IN N AMERICA TRIUMPHANT, an unequivocal statement that Sir Thomas was firmly on the side of the colonists. The Folly Flâneuse has written about the arch before, but is revisiting to mark the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S.A., and to look at a very curious moment in the modern history of the monument.

architecture, belvedere, Column, Folly, Tower, West Yorkshire

Wainhouse Tower, Halifax, West Yorkshire

The Tower in June 2019.

Halifax has been much in the news recently following the restoration of the wondrous Piece Hall, a Georgian cloth trading centre on a monumental scale. But the town is also home to another amazing structure, the Wainhouse Tower, one of the country’s finest follies. Factory chimney turned witness to wealth, it thrusts 253 feet into the sky above the town.

architecture, Folly, garden, landscape, Summerhouse, West Yorkshire

The Museum, Bramham Park, Bramham, West Yorkshire

Photograph courtesy of Val Corbett

Bramham Park, south of Wetherby and close to the Great North Road as it passes through Yorkshire, was built by Robert Benson, Lord Bingley, and completed in the early years of the 18th century. The estate has remained in the care of his descendants (with a couple of confusing name changes) ever since. In 1828, while the family were away at a funeral, fire broke out in the mansion causing serious damage to the fabric of the building. Happily, the quick actions of the servants and neighbours meant that some of the contents could be saved. Less fortunately, there was no money available to rebuild, so the house remained a ruin throughout the rest of the century.

architecture, Folly, garden, landscape, Summerhouse, Temple, West Yorkshire

Temple of Venus & Bacchus, Bretton Hall, West Yorkshire. And a ‘Hammock of Love’ …

'Summer House at Bretton' J.C.Nattes, 1805 (detail). Courtesy of Barnsley Museums, Cannon Hall Museum Collection.

In the 1760s Sir Thomas Wentworth* (1726-1792) of Bretton Hall, near Wakefield, set about landscaping his park. Initially, he employed Richard Woods, a professional landscape designer, but soon decided he could manage just as well on his own. In the 1770s he added to his grand design without recourse to even the most eminent landscaper of the age: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. A second lake would, he told friends, be completed without the help of ‘Capability or any such pretending Rogues’.

Dovecote, Folly, Grotto, Menagerie, Tower, West Yorkshire

Shaw Park Sham Castle, Halifax, West Yorkshire

In the 18th century the Shaw family of textile merchants operated out of the magnificent Piece Hall in Halifax (recently restored and very well worth a visit) https://www.thepiecehall.co.uk.  By the end of the century a new mill had been established at Holywell Green near Stainland, outside Halifax. It was greatly extended in the second half of the 19th century by Samuel Shaw, who also built a new family home nearby, which he called Brooklands. The house was almost ready for occupation in the autumn of 1868 and the grounds were being laid out at the same date. The landscaping included a pond with fountain and a series of 3 curious towers linked by a wall. The Halifax Courier described the scene in 1877, noting that the three towers gave ‘the impression that a castle of somewhat imposing dimensions’  overshadowed the grounds.

Folly, Temple, West Yorkshire

Thornes Park, Wakefield, West Yorkshire: some peripatetic fragments

The Secret Garden in Wakefield’s Thornes Park features these architectural fragments which have popped up at various locations across the Wakefield district. The pinnacle is a bit of a mystery, but is believed to have been salvaged during a restoration of Wakefield Cathedral. The columns were originally part of the Wakefield Market Cross which was demolished, against the wishes of the people of Wakefield, in 1866 as part of the corporation’s ‘public improvements’. The furious scenes at the public auction of the cross in September 1866 made the papers across Britain. It was bought by a no-nonsense Mr Armitage who said  ‘It will do very well for my garden’.