architecture, Folly

Spike Milligan: ‘Follies of the Wise’

As the festive season approached in 1970, families would have pored over the special edition of the Radio Times to see what treats the three television channels could offer. If on New Year’s Eve had they walked across the room to warm up the set, and twiddled the knob to find BBC One, they would have seen a programme called Follies of the Wise presented by Spike Milligan. The writer, actor and comedian toured Britain looking at follies: ‘strange monuments to our ancestors and their passions’. It must have reached a good audience, broadcast at 6.45pm and sandwiched between Nationwide and The Andy Williams Show.

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…

architecture, Folly, garden history, Mausoleum, North Yorkshire

Hail, Castle Howard!

Hail, Castle Howard! Hail, Vanbrugh’s noble dome
Where Yorkshire in her splendour rivals Rome!

Thus wrote John Betjeman in a poem composed for Bird’s-Eye View: The Englishman’s Home, a documentary scripted and mellifluously-narrated by Betjeman, which was first shown on BBC2 in April 1969. Many great houses are featured in the film, but a highlight for the Folly Flâneuse is Castle Howard, in North Yorkshire.