Downton Abbey: Follies Plein Air

And so, with last night’s two hour episode, we’re nearly at the end Downton Abbey Season 2. The good news is that Season 3 begins filming today! The bad news is that we in the US will be waiting until 2013 to see it. UK fans will get to see it in Fall of 2012, but that still seems a long time to wait to see if Mr. Bates did indeed kill Vera or if Mathew and Mary will FINALLY get together. And Season 3 promises the fireworks of Shirley MacLaine as the American monster mother-in-law.  But then, they did have to leave some cliffhangers didn’t they? Last night’s episode was chock full of story advancing moments, unlike last week’s epi which seemed to go nowhere. Yay – Matthew walks and can still dance! Boo – Robert, Earl of Grantham canoodles with a housemaid while his wife lies sick in bed with Spanish Influenza. Yay – Thomas gets his comeuppance and Sadness – sweet Lavinia has her swan song.

For me, the one notable moment in last week’s 5th episode of the series was the use of Jackdaw’s Castle, which is the setting for perennially unlucky middle daughter Lady Edith’s few moments with the “is he or isn’t he?” lost cousin Patrick Crawley/Peter Gordon – and then his good-bye letter (shown above).  Highclere Castle (setting for DA) has three “follies” on the estate. A folly is basically an architectural structure that serves no real purpose but to amuse or delight.  While one might argue the merits of building a costly structure that serves no purpose, they can be delightful to look at. Here are images from Highclere’s website with descriptions of their three “follies”.
I suppose one of the delight’s of a folly is the opportunity to let one’s imagination run wild and build something completely unique and personal. Because of this, it appears no two follies are alike.
Freston Tower sits on the banks of the River Orwell in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. Dating to the 16th, this might be the oldest folly in England. Although original intent for the structure is unclear, by the 18th century, it was a furnished rental,  has been used to quarantine small-pox patients and is now a vacation rental. This property is owned and maintained by The Landmark Trust.

Paxton’s Tower, located in Wales, was built between1806-1809 by Sir William Paxton, possibly in honor of Lord Nelson. The design is Neo-Gothic and is 36 feet tall. The property is maintained by The National Trust.

Connoly’s Folly, aka The Obelisk, is located in County Kildare, Ireland. This structure was built by Katherine Connolly, a wealthy philanthropic widow, who had it built to provide employment for hundreds of poor workers during the worst of the famine of 1740-41.

Wimpole’s Folly sits on the grounds of Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, England. Built in the 1770’s, it was specifically designed to look like a Medieval castle ruin. The four-story Gothic tower overlooks the ruins which spread for more than 200 feet. The property is maintained by The National Trust.

Broadway Tower is situated near the village of Broadway in the county of Worcesterchire, England on the second highest point in the Cotswolds on a site known as a Beacon Hill. The “Saxon” tower was built in 1799 for Lady Coventry who merely wanted to see if it could be seen from her house in Worcester which was about 22 miles away. It could.

Rushton Triangular Lodge was built near the end of the 16th century and is located in Northamptonshire, England by Sir Thomas Tresham a Roman Catholic. Imprisoned for refusing to convert to Protestantism, he built this structure upon his release as a testimony to his faith. Symbol’s of the Holy Trinity are used throughout including the triangle windows, the gargoyles at the top and the fact that it only has three walls. It was constructed with alternating bands of dark and light sandstone. It is maintained by English Heritage.

La Pagode de Chanteloup was built in 1775 and is located in the midst of the beautiful chateaus of the Loire Valley in France. It is 44 meters tall and includes a mahogany staircase inside. Built by the Duke of Choiseul after his exile from the French Court, the pagoda, dubbed the “Friendship Monument”, was built as a token of his gratitude towards his loyal friends who stood by him.

And, not to be outdone by our friends across the pond, we in America are known to indulge in a folly or two:

Bancroft Tower, a natural stone and granite tower resembling a miniature feudal castle, is located in Worcester, Massachusetts. The tower was built in 1900 in memory of George Bancroft by his friend Stephen Salisbury III. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is maintained by the Worcester Parks Department.

Belvedere’s Castle is located in Central Park, New York City. Built as a Victorian folly in 1869, it is situated on the park’s second-highest natural elevation and the turret is the highest point in the park. The castle was designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in a hybrid of Gothic and Roman styles. The castle is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy.


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