According to Webster's Dictionary a folly is a "foolish and useless but expensive undertaking". So what constitutes an architectural folly? In his book Follies, Shire Album 93, Jeffery W. Whitelaw notes that although they may take on different forms and styles follies are primarily constructed to be looked at and enjoyed. They may or may not have any purpose beyond being "aesthetic completions of the landscape".
By far the most prolific folly builders in England were the wealthy landowners of the eighteenth century. To read more on this fascinating topic Whitelaw's book may be purchased from bookstores in the UK or directly from Shire Books. Check out their impressive catalogue of highly informative but inexpensive books on a wide range of titles.
TheFolly Fellowship was founded in 1988 as a pressure group to protect, preserve, and promote follies, grottoes & garden buildings. Initially a group of enthusiasts keen to record what was at first seen as a peculiarly British aspect of architecture, it has grown into a serious conservation and consultative architectural heritage charity, while not losing sight of the basic idea that these buildings are fun - they were built for pleasure before purpose.
The Désert de Retz , near Paris, France, is the best surviving example of the eighteenth-century Jardin Anglo-chinois, or folly garden, and was designed and constructed between 1774 and 1789 by a wealthy aristocrat, François Racine de Monville.
The similarities between Monville and Fuller are intriguing. Both were considered eccentrics who were well connected to many notable figures in their day. Both constructed a pyramid, an obelisk and a classic temple.
Visit Ronald Kenyon's fascinating site to find out more about theDésert de Retzand Monville. Many exquisite photos and an interesting chronology have been included.
For a comprehensive look at follies in the United Kingdom. check out Phil Tuck's wonderful site at:www.follytowers.com