architecture, church, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Norfolk, pyramid, structure

Norfolk Ziggurats

Not folly, but definitely landscape ornament, The Folly Flâneuse was surprised  to find two ziggurats on a recent damp, but exhilarating, jaunt to East Anglia. Built more than two centuries apart, both were influenced by the architecture of Mesopotamia where the ziggurat was a temple in the form of a stepped pyramid, each level raising it closer to heaven. 

The earlier structure was built in around 1790 by Samuel Boycatt and takes the form of a most unusual church tower. Boycatt was the rector of St Mary’s and is said to have rebuilt the church tower, in the form of a stepped ziggurat pyramid, based on a drawing sent home from Mesopotamia by his son William, who was on the Grand Tour. The tower was to be the family mausoleum, but also proclaimed the importance of the family from afar and became a landmark for sailors on the River Waveney which passes close to the church. The Boycatt name had become Boycott by 1841, and entered the British language soon after when William’s descendant, Charles Cunningham Boycott, increased the rent of tenants on the Irish estate he managed. In response he was ostracised, or as it came to be known, boycotted.

Further north is Gunton Park, a wonderful estate with stunning mansion, Robert Adam church, and acres of deer park. It is also home to one of The Folly Flâneuse’s favourite hostelries, The Gunton Arms. Owned and restored by art dealer Ivor Braka, it is furnished with an amazing selection of artworks from his collection. There are pieces outside in the park too; deer saunter nonchalantly past a lone Gormley figure, and show little interest in a Caro. Often a group can be seen close to a Sol LeWitt structure, a five metre high four sided pyramid built of concrete blocks. LeWitt designed a number of such structures from the 1960s onwards and, like Boycott, drew some inspiration from ancient Mesopotamia.

The Folly Flâneuse does not usually address matters of exact location in these pages, as the thrill of the chase is an essential component of folly-spotting, but in this case a word of warning is required. Check a map. Burgh St Peter parish church is not in the village of the same name but a good two miles away.


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2 thoughts on “Norfolk Ziggurats”

  1. Gand says:

    East Anglia beckons us in the next few days and so do these magnificent structures. Cheers. G

    1. Editor says:

      Have a great trip! Look forward to a full report

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