“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Willet's Hidden Tower

Willet Tower is a folly that can be found hidden in dense woodland on the summit of Willet hill, to the south of the village of Elworthy in Somerset.

The tower stands 15 metres tall and was apparently originally built to resemble a ruinous church tower. The exact date of the tower's construction is uncertain but it was documented in 1791, meaning it was built at some point before that date. Some sources say that the tower was built in 1774 with the required funds of £130 being raised by public subscription. Other sources suggest that the tower may not have been built until 1782.

It is also unclear if the tower served any purpose or was a pure folly. Perhaps it was just an eye catcher or a “steeple” for horse riders? When the tower was originally built Willet hill would not have been home to the dense tree coverage which now hides its summit. So the tower would have originally commanded views across the landscape and also could have been seen from a good way off. As it can be seen from the below pictures, the tower did once have an internal wooden staircase, so it is likely that the tower would have been used for viewing the surrounding countryside at some point in its lifetime.

British listed buildings website describes the tower as:

Folly in the form of a ruined church tower. Circa 1820. Iron stone random rubble, brick dressings. 3 stage crenellated tower, one merlon on South side larger to give the illusion of stair turret, stepped buttresses to second stage, arched openings third stage, arched entrance on East and West sides. About 5 metres of wall on South side, 6 metres high including arched opening. Remains of rafters inside and indications of stairway to viewing platform. The quality of the workmanship is poor, but the tower is a very prominent landscape feature crowning a wooded hill and visible for some distance. Probably erected for Daniel Blommart of Willett House (qv) and therefore perhaps by the architect of Willet House, Richard Carver.

Ultimately however, the detailed history of Willet Tower remains uncertain,  and this folly that was once built as a sham ruin of a church tower is ironically now a ruin itself.

Approaching the tower.

The remains of the internal staircase.

Pictures: Somerset (March 2016).

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