Faringdon Folly, Oxfordshire: A Gothic tower built in the 1930s by ‘the last great eccentric’

Atop Folly Hill, Faringdon Folly is just the latest landmark at a spot with an astonishing mix of history.

The winds of the five counties on the horizon whistle around your head as you climb the hill to Faringdon Folly, a 100ft-tall Gothic tower built in 1935 by the ‘last great eccentric’ Lord Berners in honour of his companion Robert Heber-Percy.

The room at the top of Faringdon Folly.

This strategic hilltop within the Vale of the White Horse was once the site of a Celtic ring camp, a medieval castle occupied by Queen Matilda, a Cromwellian battery and a Home Guard observation post.

Faringdon Folly.

Since the 1780s, it has been topped with a four-acre woodland of broadleaf trees in a ring of statuesque Scot’s pine planted by Henry James Pye — a local landowner dubbed ‘the worst Poet Laureate in English history’ and, reputedly, about whom Sing a Song of Sixpence was written. Every winter this century, a powerful beacon has been lit at the top.

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