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Fabulous, fanciful and frivolous buildings

Gwyn Headley

National Trust


ISBN: 9781907892301

Price: £8.99

Publication date: 19 July 2012

Series: National Trust History & Heritage

Category: Architecture

Britain’s countryside is liberally sprinkled with follies – eccentric, original buildings built for fun by landowners and aristocrats over the centuries. They include prospect towers, ornamental temples, rustic hermits’ cottages, faux-prehistoric stone circles, and some buildings that don’t seem to have had any purpose at all.

In this fascinating and stylish book, folly expert Gwyn Headley brings together some of the most beautiful and intriguing follies cared for by the National Trust, from the craggy fake ruin at Mow Cop in Cheshire to the elegant buildings created by Henry Hoare for his great landscape garden at Stourhead. He also introduces some very extraordinary characters, such as Frederick Hervey, the ‘Earl-Bishop’, who had an obsession with women, volcanoes and rotundas, and Sir Thomas Tresham, whose fervent Catholicism inspired him to create the extraordinary Lyveden New Bield, an unfinished building suffused with religious symbolism.

Fully illustrated with exquisite images of these remarkable buildings, this insightful book will inspire the folly-hunter in us all.


Gwyn Headley has spent over thirty years researching follies, and is the co-author of Follies, Grottoes and Garden Buildings. He is also the co-founder of the Folly Fellowship, a pressure group that aims to protect and conserve follies in the UK, and is the owner of the FotoLibra picture library. He lives in London.