Faringdon Folly Tower and Woodland
Information about opening dates, private bookings, sculpture trail and information about Folly Hill, the Tower and the woodland can be found on: www.faringdonfolly.org.uk
The Folly Tower, built on Folly hill, by Gerald Tyrwhitt Wilson, 14th Baron Berners(1883-1959) in the 1930s. It is said to be the last Folly to be built in England.
Lord Berners wanted the Tower built in Gothic style, which the architect, his friend Lord Gerald Wellesley hated. Lord Berners went on holiday to Rome, leaving Wellesley to start the building: on his return he found that Wellesley had built all but the last 10 feet in a classical style.
Lord Berners was angry and insisted that the remainder be built in Gothic style.
The tower was opened on Guy Fawkes Day, 5th November 1935, the birthday of Lord Berners' friend Robert Heber-Percy
Look through the Planning and Appeal documentation (1934)
Read the story of building the Tower (pdf)
The brick built tower is 100 feet high, and has 154 stairs to the top.
The cantilevered wooden staircase is now supported with metal poles.
The 4 acre woodland was planted in the late 18th century by Henry James Pye, of Sing a song of sixpence' fame, in about 1780, about the time he built the present Faringdon House.
He created an outer ring of Scots Pine and an inner ring of broadleaf trees and the circular path and seats. Many of the original Scots Pine are still present. These magnificernt trees are well over 200 years old.
Robert Vernon Heber-Percy, the youngest son of Algernon Heber-Percy, was brought up at Hodnet Hall, in Shropshire. He inherited Faringdon Estates from Lord Berners and gave the tower and the woodland to Faringdon in the 1980s.
It is now owned by Faringdon Folly Trust and maintained and opened by volunteers..
In 1999, to mark the Millennium, Peter White designed and set up, with the blessing of all the relevant authorities, a rotating searchlight at the top of the tower.
This 'Millennium Lighthouse' could be seen from many miles during the hours of darkness between the New Year and Easter.
Since 2000, Peter White has provided various shaped lights that shine from the top of the tower throughout the Christmas and New Year period
Views from the air from the BBC's Britain from Above programme 2008
The Folly Tower and Woodland are owned by the Folly Tower Trust, and managed by local volunteers