Leith Hill Tower

Coldharbour, near Dorking, in Surrey

What should you do with a hill that is just 965 feet high?

That was the challenge facing Richard Hull in the 18th Century. Hull (of nearby Leith Hill Place) decided that he wanted his hill to exceed the 'magic' 1000 feet.

Leith Hill Tower was built by Hull in 1765, and at a height in excess of 60 feet achieved what he set out to do. The highest point in Southeast England, it offers views as far as St. Paul's Cathedral in London to the north, and the English Channel to the south.

Hull was buried beneath the Gothic Tower in 1772; unconfirmed reports claimed that he was interred vertically - head downwards! The original tower did not include the turreted structure adjoining (this was added around 100 years later).

Today Leith Hill Tower, and some of the surrounding woodland, is owned and maintained by the National Trust. There are excellent views in almost every direction; at least one of these would have been a complete surprise to Hull, since it is now possible to look down upon aircraft rising slowly from Gatwick Airport some eight miles away.

The Tower is open to visitors on most weekends. There are a couple of good walks in the surrounding woods.