The Folly Flâneuse is playing safe here with the locations of these two structures, as the inhabitants of the villages of Cowling and Sutton in Craven, south of Skipton, each claim a monument as their own. Locals are at least agreed on a nickname: for very obvious reasons the tower and pinnacle are known as the Salt and Pepper Pots.
The tower and pinnacle sit at opposite ends of the rocky outcrop called Earl Crag (sometimes Earl’s Crag). Wainman’s Pinnacle was the first to be erected and, as ever, there are many stories of how it came to be built. It can be accepted that it was built by a member of the Wainman family of nearby Carr Head Hall, and although it is often said to date back to the Civil War, the most likely explanation is that it was built by William Wainman to commemorate the battle of Waterloo in 1815. Wainman’s son had served in the campaign against the French so the monument would also have celebrated his safe return home. A less convincing story, published in 1876, has it that it was built by Mrs Wainman, a superstitious Roman Catholic, who buried a charm under the pinnacle to rid Carr Head of ghosts. An equally far-fetched tale suggests that a member of the family at Carr Head was possessed of the Evil Eye, and this column of stone was built so that it could be the first thing she saw each morning, and thus her gaze would cause no misfortune to those around her.
Whilst the pinnacle served its purpose as an eyecatcher and monument, its exposed position on the crag meant it was at the mercy of the Yorkshire weather, and it was damaged by lightning on a number of occasions. In the 1870s it was hit twice and a large stone was dislodged, leaving it looking as if it had ‘had a piece bitten out’. It was rebuilt at the turn of the 19th century and repaired again in 1953 by Harry Bannister, the then owner of Carr Head.
Lund’s Tower was, unsurprisingly, built by the family of that name. Industrialist James Lund (1829-1903) bought Malsis Hall, across the valley from Earl Crag, in around 1860 and soon after replaced the house there with a vast mansion in the very latest Italianate style. The tower was built as a monument and as an eye-catcher from the mansion grounds. Early 20th century accounts describe it as Lund’s ‘Jubilee Tower’, but which jubilee? As the tower appears on the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map, which was based on surveys made in 1892, it must be the Golden Jubilee of Victoria’s accession which was celebrated in 1887. The tower does carry a plaque, but either it has been worn smooth by the weather, or it was never engraved in the first place.
The building was also believed to have celebrated Lund’s daughter Ethel, and old postcards name it as the Ethel Tower. Ethel was born in 1875 and came of age in 1896, neither of which dates tallies with the jubilee, so this mystery remains unsolved. But 1896 saw celebrations for another of Lund’s daughters, and the tower did play a role. To mark the occasion of Marion Emmeline’s marriage, Malsis Hall and environs were lavishly decorated with bunting and a ‘huge flag floated from Lund’s Tower’, which must have looked magnificent. The flagpole is clearly shown in a postcard franked in 1907.
Malsis Hall was sold after Lund’s death, and became a school in 1920. In recent years the school has closed and the site is now being redeveloped for housing. The pinnacle and tower are both grade II listed and are well-maintained by the local community. There is full public access to the crag and, amazingly, the door is not blocked and visitors can climb the dark and narrow stairs to appreciate the fabulous panorama. And, in these overwhelming times, there is plenty of space outside the tower to social distance. Well from fellow humans that is…
NB these photographs were taken before the advice to Stay Home. All flâneur-ing has been put on hold for now.