Thu, 28th Feb 2013 | Reynard | 2,395 Views, 3 Nods.

Maidencombe's 'medieval' Folly

As you drive along the A379 - heading towards Teignmouth and just past Brunel Manor - on the right side of the road appears to be a small ruined medieval castle.

This is actually a 'folly' which was built in the early 1830s by Mrs. Groves who lived in Maidencombe's Sladnor Manor House.

A folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration and pleasure. They were often designed to look like real buildings.

Follies began as decorative additions to the great estates of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and they flourished over the following 200 years.

During this time, gardens came to feature Roman temples which symbolised classical ideals. Estates also featured Chinese temples, Egyptian pyramids or, as in the Sladnor example, ruined castles.

While these were examples of conspicuous consumption, many follies were also built as a form of welfare to provide employment for the local poor in times of real hardship.

These structures came to be called follies as they were "a popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder". They were often named after the individual who commissioned or designed them.

On the other hand, few follies are without some practical purpose. In some cases, they may have had a use which was later forgotten. For example, the coastal footpath just along from Torquay harbour takes you through the 'basement' of an 1840s castellated folly on Torquay's Rock End Walk. This was originally a summerhouse.

Local historian Jim Campbell has produced a video tour of the folly at Sladnor Park.

So, thanks to Jim, we have a tour of this piece of local history which has sadly been neglected over the years:


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Intelligent Exposure.