The Welsh Folly Book
The Welsh Folly Book, Graham Watkins Author

The Welsh Folly Book

The stories of 60 strange buildings in Wales.

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The Welsh Folly Book contains the stories of sixty strange buildings spread across  Wales. In Pembrokeshire, Orielton Banqueting Tower stands derelict with no windows or doors. It's one of the strange buildings with no obvious purpose. Walkers using the nearby footpath pass by, unaware that it was designed as a sumptuous three storey picnic house and a destination for carriage rides. The tower’s gaily decorated rooms, bright fireplaces and fancy ceiling were abandoned more than a hundred years ago after the owner bankrupted himself trying to impress his friends.

 

In Conwy, fisherman Mr. Jones, a 6ft 3inch man, lived in the smallest house in Wales and slept with his feet sticking out of the window. His unusual building is now a regular stop for visitors from across the world. A Welsh folly on a grander scale is Portmeirion Village where, between 1925 and 1975, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis constructed follies on an epic, almost industrial scale. In building Portmeirion, Williams-Ellis produced one of the most extravagant and beautiful follies in the world. In the 1960s his Italianate creation was used as the location for the cult television programme ‘The Prisoner’. Today, the follies at Portmeirion are a popular tourist attraction visited by thousands of holiday-makers every year.

Wales is a land of strange buildings and follies. Perhaps the strangest folly is the gravestone John Renie of Monmouth carved for himself to trick the devil. What he created was an intricate ‘acrostic puzzle’ containing 285 letters arranged to read, ‘Here lies John Renie.’ If he fooled the devil isn't clear but the puzzling tombstone is an entertaining reminder of the folly of man.

 

Written in an entertaining style The Welsh Folly Book recounts the stories and histories of sixty of the most interesting follies in Wales. Discover who erected these strange buildings and why, what secrets lay hidden in their pasts and how they have been treated over the years. For years, folly hunters have researched odd and strange buildings but never before have the secrets of so many Welsh follies been told so comprehensively and entertainingly in one book.The author says, ‘Every folly has a tale to tell and researching them has been entertaining. Nearly all tell us something about the special people who built them, as if the follies themselves are a window into another age or world, one which is well worth exploring.’

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