Posts Tagged ‘folly tower’







The new Mogul style folly at Rushmore in Dorset, England 

Don’t know how this slipped through our net – but better late than never.  Here is the splendid new folly William Gronow Davis built on his 1700 acre Rushmore estate in Dorset, England  in 2009. The gardens of his Rushmore home are sited in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and parts it are Grade II listed. Even so the 65ft high structure was given planning permission. The reason was the the folly was originally planned to incorporate five mobile phone masts and to be funded by mobile telecoms company O2.  

When the company pulled out of the deal, Mr Gronow-Davis decided to go ahead with the folly, which by then had valid planning permission.

It is build in Indian Mogul style to reflect the fact Mr Gronow-Davis was born in India. It is built from concrete, rendered in lime and sections of the four pillars have been washed in red ochre lime. The base is made out of Turkish limestone and has the family’s crest coated on it along with the four points of the compass. It is surrounded by a ha ha (a sloping sided ditch.)  The five copper domes on the roof are capable of housing the phone aerials in the future.

Mr Gronow-Davis, a descendent of General Augustus Pitt Rivers, who inherited the estate in the 19th century, said: “It is unusual and looks so beautiful from my house. From my drawing room you look out onto the gardens along an avenue of trees and fountains and about a mile away is the folly. It is wonderful and just finishes the garden off.

“The telephone company was going to pay for it but that all fell through. By that time I decided I wanted the folly and so I paid for it. I would say that 99 per cent of the feedback I have had has been positive. Natural England has said it enhances the landscape.”

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Alster Tower Boldt Castle September 2007

Alster Tower, Boldt Castle, St Lawrence River, September 2007 

 OK so it isn’t strictly a modern folly but it is a nineteenth century one which, after over 70 years of dereliction, started to undergo a major restoration in 1977. And the transformation has been remarkable.

At the turn-of-the-century, George C. Boldt, millionaire proprietor of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, set out to build a full size rhineland castle in Alexandria Bay, on picturesque Heart Island in the St Lawrence river in upstate New York near the Canadian border.  The grandiose structure was to be a display of his love for his wife, Louise.

Beginning in 1900, Boldt’s family shared four glorious summers on the island in the Alster Tower while 300 workers including stonemasons, carpenters, and artists fashioned the six story, 120 room castle, complete with tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, and a dove cote. Not a single detail or expense was spared. Alster Tower has a shell shaped ceiling on the first floor.

In 1904, tragedy struck. Boldt telegraphed the island and commanded the workers to immediately “stop all construction.” Louise had died suddenly at the age of 45. A broken hearted Boldt could not imagine his dream castle without his beloved. Boldt never returned to the island, leaving behind the structure as a monument of his love.

For 73 years, the castle and various stone structures were left to the mercy of the wind, rain, ice, snow and vandals. When the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property in 1977, it was decided that through the use of all net revenues from the castle operation it would be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

Since 1977, several million dollars have been applied to rehabilitating, restoring and improving the Heart Island structures. It can be reached and visited by boat from Alexandria Bay. In the summer the blue water sparkles and the castle and follies are enchanting to visit.

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