In 1897, John Stuart McCaig, an Oban banker and art critic, wanted to give work to the local unemployed men and at the same time to build a lasting memorial to himself. The result was the construction of a large granite replica of Rome’s Colosseum, still to be seen dominating a hill which overlooks the town of Oban on Scotland’s west coast. His grandiose scheme kept local stonemasons and labourers in work which continued until his death. Wonderful views over the town, harbour and islands are to be seen from a viewing platform near the folly.
If you drive through Tattingstone in Suffolk and alongside Alton Water, you will see what appears to be an old church complete with tower, by the roadside. Closer inspection will reveal that it is not a church at all but three cottages disguised as a church! This fine folly was built in 1760 by the local Squire, Edward White M.P. He had a good view of his ‘old church’ from his fine house on the other side of the valley.
Just outside the village of Tixall in Staffordshire and not far from Tixhall Gatehouse, is a tiny octagonal building with an ogee roof. known as Bottle Lodge. The building mirrors the corner towers of the nearby gatehouse – possibly the gatehouse to the gatehouse. It has been completely renovated and is now a minute house.
Mow Cop Castle
On the Staffordshire – Cheshire border near Biddulph, a hill rises to nearly 1100 feet above sea level and it is crowned by Mow Cop Castle, which is not really a castle! This Gothic folly in the shape of a ruined castle was erected in 1750 to gratify the whim of local landowner, Randle Wilbraham. This curious building is now in the care of the National Trust, and spectacular views can be had from the site.
Mow Cop Castle
Sorrelsykes Farm at Aysgarth in North Yorkshire is built in a variety of styles and has the frontage of an 18th century Palladian mansion dating to C 1750.
There are some curious ‘eyecatcher’ follies in the grounds such as a sham ruin and an elaborate arched gateway. The ‘Rocket Ship’ c1860 and the ‘Pepper Pot’ c1921 make up the collection.
The eccentric eleventh Duke of Norfolk was the owner of Greystoke Castle in Cumberland in the 18th century. He was a Whig and a strong supporter of the American colonists which prompted him to build two curious farm houses on his estate to commemorate two of the battles in the American War of Independence. Both of the farms are surrounded by curtain walls with thin towers and blank arches – ‘Fort Putnam’ also has circular buttresses, whilst ‘Bunkers Hill’ has a crenellated roof and arched windows. Both farms are situated alongside the B5288 to the east of Greystoke. The Duke also built a third farm house – ‘ Spire Farm’, near to the other two, also castle like but with a fine spire on the central tower, reminiscent of a church tower. It is said that the tenant of this farm belonged to an obscure religious sect and the Duke designed the building with this in mind.