Sunday, 4 December 2016

Barwick Park Follies

Barwick Park, which is located just to the south of Yeovil, has four impressive follies:
  1. Jack the Treacle Eater
  2. Rose Tower or Cone
  3. Fish Tower
  4. Obelisk or Needle
The origin of the follies is somewhat of a mystery.  They were probably built in the 1770s by John Newman, who owned the estate at the time.   Another theory is that they were commissioned by George Messiter in the 1820s to give estate labourers work to do during an agricultural depression or to relieve unemployment in the Yeovil glove trade.  They are placed almost at the north, east, south and west points of a compass.  None of them had any useful purpose, so they are true follies.

The Fish Tower is located on the northern edge of the estate just to the south of Two Tower Lane.  There was originally a second tower a few metres away from the Fish Tower, hence the name of the lane.  However the other tower, which is shown on a tithe map of 1837, had fallen down or been demolished by around 1880.  The Fish Tower got its name from the fish weather vane, which was once attached to the top of it.  This had disappeared by the 1950s.  The Fish Tower is a cylindrical tower made of rubble and is about 15 metres high.  The cap is made of ham stone with decorative markings on it.

The Cone or Rose Tower stands on the western edge of the estate adjacent to the Yeovil Showground.  There is no public right of way to it but every Sunday a car boot sale is held on the Showground.  I had never been to a car boot sale before (and won't hurry to visit another one, as it seemed to be mainly tat and junk food that was on sale, although everyone else seemed to be enjoying the experience) but this was the only legitimate way I could think of to get a photo of the Cone.  It is 22 metres high and the cone part is set on a cylindrical base, which is dissected by three arches.  The cone has seven levels of pigeon holes in it and is crowned by a ball finial.

The Obelisk is situated at the southern end of the estate adjacent to the A37 main Yeovil to Dorchester road.  It is surrounded by trees and as yet I haven't figured out a way of safely getting a photo of it, as the road is very busy and there is no pavement or footpath to it.  It is 15 metres high and the top is leaning to one side.

Jack the Treacle Eater is my favourite of the follies. It lies at the eastern end of the estate adjacent to a public footpath.   At the bottom there is a rubble arch.  This has a circular crenelated turret on top of it and on top of this is a conical roof crowned with a statue of Mercury, the Roman messenger of the gods (or possibly Hermes, the equivalent Greek god).  The story goes that the Messiter family employed a messenger boy called Jack, who ate treacle to give him the energy to run to London.  The turret has an inaccessible door (open when we visited) leading to a single small room.

Cone or Rose Tower

Cone or Rose Tower
 Fish Tower
View up the centre of the Fish Tower
Fish Tower
Jack the Treacle Eater
Jack the Treacle Eater
Jack the Treacle Eater

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