Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wimpole's folly

Let's talk about something tame today - follies. Follies are fanciful architectural structures that aren't intended for housing or shelter, but merely as decorative structures. They were typical of 18th c. English gardens and French landscape gardening, and consisted of temples, pagodas, pyramids, or - my particular favorite - ruins. There are links to photos and descriptions of several follies here. The one pictured is Wimpole's folly, built by Lord Chancellor, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, Philip Yorke on his 2,500-acre estate in Cambridgeshire, England. The gothic ruin was designed in 1751 by noted folly architect Sanderson Miller (1716-1780) and features 200' of ruins and a 4-storey tower. The folly was meant to be viewed from the drawing room of Wimpole Hall, which is now owned by the National Trust and open to the public. Today, follies have fierce advocates: a website called Follies and Monuments; a blog called The Folly Fancier; a book by Gwyn Headley, who says, "A folly is a state of mind, not an architectural style"; and the Folly Fellowship, a pressure group to protect, preserve, and promote follies, grottoes, and garden buildings. Long live follies!

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