South West Oxfordshire
"Within three minutes' walk of the town, is Faringdon Hill, well known for its extensive view over the surrounding country; it rises gradually from the vale of White Horse, the whole of which it commands, as well as a rich and varied prospect of parts of five counties, viz Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, and Buckinghamshire.
There are many single points of view, which equal, or perhaps surpass, that to be seen from this place, but when a circuit is made of its summit, and new beauties are found at every step, it cannot fail to be pronounced the finest circular view in the kingdom,"
Extract from Pigot & Co's Directory of 1824
Here lofty mountains lift their azure heads,
There its green lap the grassy meadows spread,
Enclosures here the sylvan scene divide,
There plains extended spread their harvests wide.
Henry James Pye. 1774
Extract from an 81 page poem!!
Faringdon Hill (also known as Folly Hill and Cromwell's battery) is East of the town, overlooking the old roads to Oxford and Stanford in the Vale. It's top is flattened and almost circular, with a clear view to the North across the Thames Valley, and southwards to the Berkshire Downs. Views over Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire can be seen on a clear day.
It is 447 feet above sea level.
In 1144 a fortified castle was built, by Robert Earl of Gloucester, to support his aunt, Matilda (countess of Anjou and legitimate heir to Henry II), in her campaign to depose King Stephen, the King of England(1135-1144) and grandson of William the Conqueror.
At the Battle of Faringdon in 1145 Stephen defeated Matilda and in 1153 Stephen acknowledged Matilda's son, Henry II, as his own heir. Read about it in Berkshire History.
In 1645 it was fortified again by Oliver Cromwell failed in his attack on the Royalists at Faringdon House.
The Folly Tower was built on Folly Hill by Lord Berners in 1935.
During the World War II soldiers from The Royal Artillery camp at Shrivenham made use of the Folly Tower and Hill for exercises with wireless sets in conjunction with their pillbox below, beside the crest of London Road. The tower was also an observation post for the homeguard.
The woodland covers about 4 acres.
The outer ring of trees are Scots Pine with broadleaf trees forming an inner ring. Some of the Scots Pine are thought to be over 200 years old and more than 20m in height and some of the finest in England. In 1990 gale force winds devastated the woodland.
The summit was planted with Scots Pine by Henry James Pye, in about 1780, about the time he built the present Faringdon House. He also created the circular path and provided seats. Henry James Pye was dubbed 'the worst ever poet laureate' He was so bad that his peers lampooned him in 'Sing a Song of sixpence'
More detailed history by Geoffrey Williams