News, Faringdon folly tower: the finest circular view in the kingdom

Folly tower

ATA is delighted to be working again with the Faringdon Folly Tower Trust in their care for this iconic structure on the outskirts of Faringdon. The practice helped with the repair/re-design of the roof area of the tower ten years ago and have recently carried out a condition survey which has identified the need for further repairs to external masonry. Subsequently, ATA has been appointed to develop proposals for repairs and to support the Trust in their fund-raising activities.

The condition survey was carried out in collaboration with the 2021 SPAB Scholars (Amy Redman, Libby Watt and Lucy Newport) as part of their training as conservation professionals and was supplemented by a drone survey of the high-level external areas of the tower by Geo-4D. 

Image of the belvedere room by Geo-4D taken using a drone

Folly Tower was built in 1935 by Lord Berners, then the owner of Faringdon House, to the design of the architect, Lord Gerald Wellsley. The form of the building follows the precedent of an Italian campanile and the detailing is a quirky combination of spare classical and gothic. The building was closed and neglected for many years before being repaired and brought back into use in the late 1980s by the owner at the time, Robert Heber-Percy, who inherited the Faringdon House estate from Lord Berners on the death of the latter. The 20th century history of Faringdon House and the estate (including construction of the Folly Tower) is documented in The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me by Soffka Zinovieff, published in 2014.

Inside the main belvedere room

The Folly tower is reputed to have been built by Lord Berners as a birthday present for his partner, Robert Heber-Percy, although Berners, a composer of some importance, also arranged during construction of the tower to have a grand piano installed in the Belvedere room, thus allowing him to play among the tree tops.

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