However you define them, they are almost always odd, and often
accompanied by an interesting past.
The building of follies began in England around 1600. Generally they were erected as a part of a garden, or to improve the appearance of a landscape for the benefit of a wealthy landowner and his family as they surveyed the view from their home.
Sometimes they were built simply as a joke, or as part of a bet. Almost always expensive, they were possible only for the few - but the employment that the building work generated for local people was often welcome.
Many of the ideas seem to have stemmed from the fashion during the 17th Century for the sons of wealthy families to tour Europe as a part of their education - 'The Grand Tour'. Whilst travelling in countries such as Italy or Greece they saw the ruins of buildings from an earlier age, an age that they had come across already as part of a Classical education, and they sought to create something similar upon their return.
The erection of follies was fashionable (for those that could afford it) throughout much of the 17th and 18th Centuries and then dwindled. Not completely, however - at least one modern-day folly was built as the last millennium drew to a close!
Solomon's Temple, at Buxton
A Victorian Folly, also known as Grinlow Tower, overlooking the town of Buxton.
The Temple, at Henley on Thames
A Georgian ‘folly’ on an island in the River Thames.
A folly tower on Callow Hill, close to Craven Arms.
Hawkstone Park and Historic Follies
A park close to Shrewsbury, full of follies, monuments and so on.
The House in the Clouds
A house above the trees at Thorpeness, on the Suffolk coast near Aldeburgh.
Leith Hill Tower
A Gothic Tower built to raise the height of a hill in Surrey.
The follies of Brightling, East Sussex
Brightling is a village almost over-endowed with follies! The local squire - commonly known as ‘Mad Jack Fuller’ - was so keen on them that he arranged for several to be erected in and around the village.
The ruins of Knepp Castle, West Sussex
More of a curiosity than a folly - but striking nevertheless.
The Goring Folly
At Goring-by-Sea, close to Worthing, this folly was built at the turn of the millennium - the most recent one! Not visible to the public it is, nevertheless, a reminder that the art of Folly Building is still with us.
On the edge of the town of Midhurst, Cowdray Castle was caught up in a curse that might well have been its downfall.
Nore Folly (sometimes known as the Slindon Folly) looks a little like the entrance to a railway tunnel - but without the railway.
A strange looking ruin on the Stansted Estate - sometimes called Racton Tower, or Racton Castle.
The Four Stones Folly
A group of stones erected on a ridge of the Clent Hills.
A castle-shaped tower on a hill overlooking Broadway.