Soon after her marriage in 1816 Princess Charlotte of Wales, only daughter of the future George IV and his estranged wife Caroline of Brunswick, settled at Claremont House in Surrey with her husband Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. The Princess ordered the construction of a gothic summerhouse on the spot where she first alighted on the estate, and called the retreat her ‘House on the Hill’. In the spring of 1817 there was great public rejoicing when it became known that the Princess was expecting a child who might one day be king or queen.
In the middle of the 18th century the Earl of Strafford was embellishing his seat at Wentworth Castle near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. A new wing was added to the mansion and the grounds were decorated with temples, columns and garden seats. Strafford asked his lifelong friend Horace Walpole for advice on an ornament for his menagerie, and this little gothic temple was the result.
In 1954 Agatha Christie wrote a novella which was intended to raise money for her local church. Upon completion she was so taken with the story that she decided to develop it into a full novel, and submitted a different story to the fundraising effort. The work she had originally written was called Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly, and this work was expanded and eventually published in 1956 as Dead Man’s Folly.
Cotehele stands just on the Cornwall side of the river Tamar that forms the boundary with Devon. The estate was the ancient seat of the Edgcumbes, but by the 18th century it was a secondary residence, with the family preferring nearby Mount Edgcumbe, overlooking Plymouth Sound. On high ground above the house at Cotehele stands this solitary three-sided tower, of which little seems to be known. No inscriptions give even a hint of its history.
On high ground above Creech Grange, near Wareham in Dorset, stands a battlemented and pinnacled arch which looks like the entrance to an estate. But no road passes through it, and the structure exists simply to catch the eye and ornament the landscape.
The Folly Flâneuse is away (in search of follies of course), so until next week here is a brief look at the very pretty Music Temple at West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, the seat of the Dashwood family.
The temple, also known as the Theatre, was designed by Nicholas Revett in the late 1770s, and sits on the largest of the three islands on the lake. Sir Francis Dashwood’s guests would have been rowed over to the island for fêtes champêtres of food, wine and music.
The Music Temple is just one of the many garden features added to the West Wycombe landscape in the eighteenth century. Some are lost, but others have been restored, or indeed rebuilt, by later generations of the family.
In 1943 Sir John Dashwood gifted West Wycombe to the National Trust, but the house remains home to the Dashwood family. The house and grounds reopen in the spring https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/west-wycombe-park-village-and-hill
There will be no lounging around for the Folly Flâneuse, who will be back next week.
APOLOGIES that there has been a glitch in the system and regular readers will receive two posts this week. If you have missed the other it is here https://thefollyflaneuse.com/bonds-folly-or-creech-grange-arch-dorset/
In 1981-82 the Royal Mail issued a set of stamp books featuring follies, and Richard Downer, an artist best known for the vast number of lovely line drawings he provided for the covers of Britain’s telephone directories, was commissioned to provided the illustrations. Of the six follies featured, five survive today and are very familiar to anyone with an interest in the subject, but one was relatively obscure, and has a rather interesting history.
High on the Sussex Downs, near the village of South Harting, stand some curious ruins. The jagged and dilapidated stonework is all that remains of the wonderful ornate tower built by Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh of Uppark (or Up-park) in the 1770s and later known by the curious title of the Vandalian Tower.
Such was the headline of an article in the Sussex County Magazine in 1937. The author, William A. Bagley, was fascinated by the ‘strange towers’ that could be found ‘dotted all over the hilltops of England’. Revisiting some of the follies he described some 85 years later the Folly Flâneuse discovered that the towers have had differing histories: one is lost, some survive in much the same state as when Bagley saw them, and one is currently on the market with a multi-million pound asking price.
Sir Charles Barry is usually remembered as the architect of grand Victorian edifices like the Palace of Westminster, and for remodelling country houses such as Trentham in Staffordshire and Harewood in Yorkshire. But he was also happy to take on smaller projects, and in 1845 this elegant obelisk was erected to his design in a distant corner of the Bowood estate of the Marquess of Lansdowne.