Dare to investigate Folly Tower Friday 13th October!!
Are you brave enough as we delve into the history of the Tower and the ground and woods below it?
We begin the evening with a 2hr paranormal investigation in the Tower itself with spiritual and scientific experiments as we explore the unknown.
Who's there, who's bones are buried under the ground, what battles took place here....
So much history lies in the Folly trees and under the hill, the Tower itself may tell the tales throughout our evening.
Following the investigation we head back down the hill to London Street and into the Vintage and Gothic surroundings of our premises at no8, for some light refreshments and a comfort break, before heading into the dark unknown.
At the rear of the shop is our beautifully created Victorian themed Seance room, with green and black velvet flocked walls, red lamps and furniture to suit the surroundings, sit in our 100 year old chair and let your mind wander into the darker side of London Street and the surrounding areas, as Claire-Marie offers you a unique Seance experience.
This Halloween double event is unique and made especially exciting by being on Friday 13th, so don't delay as it is limited to only 15 spaces.
This small hill just to the East of Faringdon and rising to 300 feet above the surrounding countryside, has collected numerous names throughout the course of its documented history. One of these (Folly Hill) is at least a thousand years older than the “Folly” that was built on it.
The Folly Tower was built in 1935 by the diplomat, composer, artist, poet and author Gerald Tyrwhitt Wilson, who became the 14th Baron Berners, (1883-1950) in 1919. The year after inheriting his title, be bought Faringdon House, which his mother had leased since 1910, taking permanent residence on her death in 1931. Berners is described by his biographer as the 'last eccentric' and he was certainly possessed of a dry, but surreal sense of humour.
In 1919, a timber merchant wanted to buy the trees on top of Folly Hill, but Berners outbid him. It is reported that when Berners and his life long friend, Robert Heber Percy, were inspecting his purchase he was overheard to say it would be "nice to have a tower here". This raised locals' hackles, but it is typical of Berners that a 'nice idea' became a cause celebre with which to tease his objectors. Unfortunately, the battle to get the necessary planning permission was hard and long. Although Berners agreed to reduce the height of the proposed tower to 100 feet, planning permission was refused because Faringdon Rural District Council "failed to see the object or benefit of the tower if erected". Berners replied "that the great point of the Tower is that it will be entirely useless" which is, of course, the very definition of a folly.
A seemingly not-quite local resident, Vice-Admiral F. Clifton Brown, objected on the grounds that the tower would spoil his view. When the tower's architect and Berners' friend, Lord Gerald Wellesley, replied that Vice-Admiral Clifton Brown could not possibly see the tower from his back garden without a telescope, the former seadog replied that such was indeed his habit. Not to be outdone Wellesley pointed out to the critical observer the fine views that would be had from the top of the Tower. His prompt riposte was "how will I get there?" to which Wellesley replied: "By the stairs!" Whether so intended, the Folly now had a use as a fine vantage point.
Planning permission was eventually granted in late 1934 with the proviso that the tower would only be higher than the surrounding trees by three feet.
The Folly is said to be last folly tower built in the UK. After a long period of disuse it was restored in 1983 by Robert Herber Percy who left it in trust to the people of Faringdon.
Friday 13th October
Ticket Price £49.50
Includes Buffet and Refreshments
The tower opened on November 5th 1935 with a grand bonfire party, at which Berners' guests were allowed to burn up to six effigies of their enemies: this was deemed to be "most inadequate2. Fifteen months after the opening, the following poem by 'P.B. of Challow' was printed in the North Wiltshire Herald. It is perhaps no coincidence that Penelope and John Betjeman, friends of Berners, lived in Challow at the time.
Berners wanted the tower built in a Gothic style, which Wellesley hated Berners went on holiday to Rome leaving Wellesley to start the building: on his return, however, he found that Wellesley had build all but the last ten feet in a classical style. the irate Berners insisted that the remainder be built in Gothic, hence, the rather incongruous change in style at the top.
We came upon it, you and I,
Set on a hill near Faringdon Town,
We came upon it suddenly.
Clouds were drifting across the sky,
Just before the sun went down,
The trees are rustling lazily ...P.B.
Berners' Self Penned Epitaph
Here lies Lord Berners
One of the learners
His great love of learning
May earn him a burning
But praise to the lord
He seldom was bored