architecture, a folly is a buildingconstructed strictly as a decoration, having none of the usual purposes of housing or sheltering associated with a conventional structure. They originated as decorative accents in parks and estates. "Folly" is used in the sense of fun or light-heartedness, not in the sense of something ill-advised.
The concept of the folly is somewhat ambiguous, but they generally have the following properties:
*"They are buildings, or parts of buildings." Thus they are distinguished from other garden
ornamentssuch as sculpture.
*"They have no purpose other than as an ornament." Often they have some of the appearance of a building constructed for a particular purpose, but this appearance is a sham.
*"They are purpose-built." Follies are deliberately built as ornaments.
*"They are often eccentric in design or construction." This is not strictly necessary; however, it is common for these structures to call attention to themselves through unusual details or form.
*"There is often an element of fakery in their construction." The canonical example of this is the sham ruin: a folly which pretends to be the remains of an old building but which was in fact constructed in that state.
In England, these structures are also called "eye-catchers"by whom?, indicating their basically decorative nature.
Follies fall within the general realm of fanciful and impractical architecture, and whether a particular structure is a folly is sometimes a matter of opinion. However, there are several types which are related but which can be distinguished from follies.
*Fantasy and novelty buildings are essentially the converse of follies. Follies often look like real, usable buildings, but never are; novelty buildings are usable, but have fantastic shapes. The many American shops and
water towers in the shapes of commonplace items, for example, are not properly follies.
*Eccentric structures may resemble follies, but the mere presence of eccentricity is not proof that a building is a folly. Many mansions and castles are quite eccentric, but being purpose-built to be used as residences, they are not properly follies.
*Some structures are popularly referred to as "follies" because they failed to fulfill their intended use. Their design and construction may be foolish, but in the architectural sense, they are not follies.
Visionary artstructures frequently blur the line between artwork and folly, if only because it is rather often hard to tell what intent the artist had. The word "folly" carries the connotation that there is something frivolous about the builder's intent, and it is hard to say whether a structure like the Watts Towerswas constructed "seriously". Some works (such as the massive complex by Ferdinand Cheval) are considered as follies because they are in the form of useful buildings, but are plainly constructions of extreme and intentional impracticality.
Amusement parks, fairgrounds, and expositions often have fantastical buildings and structures. Some of these are follies, and some are not; the distinction, again, comes in their usage. Shops, restaurants, and other amusements are often housed in strikingly odd and eccentric structures, but these are not follies. On the other hand, fake structures which serve no other purpose than decoration are also common, and these are follies.
Follies began as decorative accents on the great estates of the late 16th and early 17th centuries but they flourished especially in the two centuries which followed. Many estates were blessed with picturesque ruins of monastic houses and (in Italy) Roman villas; others, lacking such buildings, constructed their own sham versions of these romantic structures. Such structures were often dubbed " [name of architect or builder] 's Folly", after the single individual who commissioned or designed the project. However, very few follies are completely without a practical purpose. Apart from their decorative aspect, many originally had a use which was lost later, such as hunting towers. Follies are misunderstood structures, according to The Folly Fellowship, a charity that exists to celebrate the history and splendour of these often neglected buildings.
Follies are often found in parks or large grounds of houses and
stately homes. Some were deliberately built to look partially ruined. They were especially popular from the end of the 16th century to the 18th century. Theme parks and world's fairs have often contained "follies", although such structures do serve a purpose of attracting people to those parks and fairs.
Irish Potato Famineof 1845-49 led to the building of several follies. The society of the day held that laissez faire, not a welfare state, was the appropriate form of civil management. The concept of a welfare state was a century away, and at that time reward without labour, even to those in need, was seen as misguided. However, to hire the needy for work on useful projects would deprive existing workers of their jobs. Thus, construction projects termed "famine follies" came to be built. These include: roads in the middle of nowhere, between two seemingly random points; screen and estate walls; piers in the middle of bogs; etc. [Howley, James. 1993. "The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland." New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05577-3]
Follies are found world-wide, but they are particularly abundant in
Great Britain. See also .
Désert de Retz, folly garden in Chambourcynear Paris, France(18th century)
Parc de la Villettein Parishas a number of modern follies by architect Bernard Tschumi.
Ferdinand Chevalin Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, built what he called an Ideal Palace, seen as an example of naive architecture.
Kellie's Castle, Perak
Overbury's Folly, Thalassery, Kerala
Casino at Marino
* Ruined towers in
Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo, Gatchina, and Tsaritsino
Creaking Pagodaand Chinese Village in Tsarskoe Selo
Dutch Admiraltyin Tsarskoe Selo
* Swallow's Nest near
Ashton Memorial, Lancaster, England
Beckford's Tower, Somerset, England
Broadway Tower, The Cotswolds, England
Bettisons Folly, Hornsea, England
Black Castle Public House, Bristol, England
* The Cage at
Lyme Park, Cheshire, England
The Castleat Roundhay Park, Leeds, England
Clavell Tower, Dorset, England
Clytha Castle Monmouthshire
* The Caldwell Tower,
Lugton, Renfrewshire, Scotland.
Dunmore Pineapple, Falkirk, Scotland
* Faringdon Folly,
Flounder's Folly, Shropshire, England
The Folly Towerat Pontypool, Wales
Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire, England
Fort Belvedere, Surrey, England
Freston Tower, near Ipswich, Suffolk
* Gothic Tower at
Goldney Hall, Bristol
* The Great Pagoda at the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London¨
Gwrych Castle, one of Europe's largest follies, Abergele, North Wales
Hawkstone Park, follies and gardens in Shropshire, England
Hume Castle. Berwickshire, Scotland
King Alfred's Tower, Stourhead, Wiltshire, England
McCaig's Tower, Oban, Scotland
Mow Cop Castle, Cheshire, England
* National Monument,
Old John, Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, England
Penshaw Monument, Penshaw, Sunderland, England
Perrott's Folly, Birmingham, England
Pope's Grotto, Twickenham, south west London, England.
Rushton Triangular Lodge, Northamptonshire (16th century)
Severndroog Castle, Shooter's Hill, south-east London
Stowe Schoolhas several follies in the grounds
* Sway Tower,
New Forest, England
Tattingstone Wonder, near Ipswich, Suffolk
* The Temple near
Castle Semple Loch, Renfrewshire, Scotland.
* Wentworth Follies, Wentworth,
Williamson's tunnels, probably the largest underground folly in the world, Liverpool, England
Belvedere Castle, New York City
Lawson Tower, Scituate, Massachusetts
Lucy the Elephant, Margate City, New Jersey
Bishop Castle, outside of Pueblo, Colorado
Körner's Folly, Kernersville, North Carolina
* [http://www.follies.org.uk The Folly Fellowship] - An organization which celebrates architectural follies
* [http://www.britainexpress.com/History/follies.htm Follies in the English Landscape ]
* [http://www.follytowers.com/ Follies and Monuments] - A comprehensive catalogue of Follies within the UK
* [http://www.odd-stuff.info/follies/ Images of follies on Odd-stuff!]
* [http://www.europeanfollies.com European Follies] - Book to be published 2007
* [http://follyfancier.wordpress.com] - stylish blog of modern follies around the world
*Barton, Stuart "Monumental Follies" Lyle Publications, 1972
*Folly Fellowship, The "Follies Magazine", published quarterly
*Folly Fellowship, The "Follies Journal", published annually
*Folly Fellowship, The "Foll-e", an electronic bulletin published monthly and available free to all
*Hatt, E. M. "Follies" National Benzole, London 1963
*Headley, Gwyn & Meulenkamp, Wim, "Follies Grottoes & Garden Buildings", Aurum Press, London 1999
*Headley, Gwyn & Snowdon, "London Sight Unseen: The Hidden Buildings of London", Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1998
*Headley, Gwyn "Architectural Follies in America", John Wiley & Sons, New York 1996
*Headley, Gwyn & Meulenkamp, Wim, "Follies — A Guide to Rogue Architecture", Jonathan Cape, London 1990
*Headley, Gwyn & Meulenkamp, Wim, "Follies — A National Trust Guide", Jonathan Cape, London 1986
*Howley, James "The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland" Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1993
*Jackson, Hazelle "Shellhouses and Grottoes", Shire Books, England, 2001
*Jones, Barbara Follies & Grottoes Constable, London 1953 & 1974
*Meulenkamp, Wim "Follies — Bizarre Bouwwerken in Nederland en België", Arbeiderpers, Amsterdam, 1995
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.