The Folly Tower
“The great point of the Tower is that it will be entirely useless”
Berners’ response when asked by the planning subcommittee what exactly was the point of the Tower.
Lord Berners had more fun with his choice of architect. Knowing that his friend Lord Wellesley detested gothic architecture, Berners commissioned him to build a gothic folly. But while Berners was abroad Wellesley defiantly built the Tower in austere classical style. With all but ten feet to go, Berners returned home.
Irately, he insisted that the Tower be finished off in Gothic, thus explaining the rather curious mixture of styles.
Whilst walking on Folly Hill in the early 1930s, Lord Berners flippantly remarked to his companion Robert Heber-Percy that “this Hill needs a Tower”. This was overheard, and wild rumours flew, leading to fierce local objections. Amused, Berners decided to tease his objectors and, wittily defeating all opposition, he obtained his planning permission with the proviso that the Tower could only be higher than the surrounding trees by three feet.
Opening of the Tower. Tatler 1935
Photographs of the guests and account of the opening
Opening of the Folly Tower extract from Faringdon Advertiser 2007
Newspaper account of the Firework display
Tolkien and The Folly Tower extract from The Observer May 2020
Whatever your views about the eccentric architecture of the last Folly to be built in England, the views from the top are not in question and are quite simply breathtaking.