I suspect that a Folly is predominantly a British phenomena. There is a saying that “An Englishman’s Home is his Castle” and that is as true today as ever.
However in times gone by those who were lucky enough to live in Castles or Grand Mansion Houses seemed to want more. So they built what became know as ‘Follies” in their grounds. Often they were just a building, some times just a shell, that was built at a point where they felt it added to the beauty of the landscape or interest when viewed from the comfort of their home.
Sometime the fashion for a Folly became more serious, a building that was basic but that was able to be used for picnics, entertaining or even clandestine meetings. Most were simply decorative and varied in the scale of there grandeur……and mainly were just built on the whim of the wealthy owner.
Broadway Tower has been called both a Folly and an important Historical Building…
Broadway Tower, Worcestershire
Broadway Tower is perhaps best described as a Folly that also had a practical purpose.
It was built on the whim of Lady Coventry. Here home was some 20 miles away from this hill on which the tower was to be built. The hill itself had been a Beacon Point for signal fires for several centuries. Lady Coventry was not sure that she would have been able to see such a beacon signal so she commission two famous names in Landscaping and Architecture to construct a Tower.
So Capability Brown and James Wyatt collaborated to build Broadway Tower…..and yes, when it was completed Lady Coventry could gaze upon it from her distant home. No real surprise as the hill stands at some 1024ft and the tower itself a height of 65ft.
Over the intervening years Broadway Tower has provided a useful function apart from being purely visual and decorative.
In 1822 Sir William Phillipps installed a printing Press from which to publish his catalogues of his large book collections.
This was followed in the 1880’s as a ‘Retreat’ for two famous Artists and Designers, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. The Tower seemed to make a large impression upon them as they went onto to found the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
Today the Tower is part of a Country Park and is open for visitors to climb to the Tower and enjoy panoramic views over the Cotswolds, the Industrial Midlands and to the far off Welsh Hills.
(C) David Oakes 2015