Fairytale follies in England

1) Hackfall

Now a seemingly wild stretch of forest in the care of the Woodland Trust, Hackfall was once a meticulously designed ornamental landscape, created by landowner William Aislabie in the 18th century. Aislabie planted trees, created water features and designed and built a number of follies that are concealed within the woodland. All of his wooden buildings have since disappeared, while other stone constructions have been ruined over time, but there are still some wonderful structures to be found here. Now standing without its original roof or windows, circular Fisher’s Hall is a surreal sight to stumble upon in the middle of the woodland. Visitors can spot the mock ruins of miniature Mowbray Castle between the leaves and the Rustic Temple beside a lake. One of Aislabie’s follies, the Grade II*-listed banqueting house, known as The Ruin, has been fully restored by the Landmark Trust and can now be rented for overnight stays.

Stone folly in the woods of Hackfall

Near Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire


2) Claife Viewing Station

Built in the 1790s, this stone construction, which looks a little like the ruins of a tiny castle, was actually built as a place from which early tourists could admire the views of Lake Windermere. It was even used as a location for dances in the early 19th century, when each of the windows were set with a different shade of coloured glass to give the viewer a sense of seeing the lake in different seasons and weather conditions. It’s been partially restored and is now open to the elements, but it is still a dreamy place to take in your surroundings.

A person looks out over the water from Claife Viewing Station

Beside the ferry on Windermere’s west shore, near Far Sawrey, Hawkshead, Cumbria

+44 (0)15 3944 1456


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3) Stourhead

There’s a grand Palladian-style villa at Stourhead, but if you head deeper into the estate’s stunning, landscaped garden you’ll stumble upon a number of even more captivating buildings. Wandering around Stourhead’s glassy lake, you’ll come across the tiny Temple of Flora, a cool, cave-like grotto, and the Pantheon, a grand structure inspired by Rome’s Pantheon that sits right at the water’s edge. Elsewhere, more follies appear. Don’t miss the Temple of Apollo, an intriguing circular structure with amazing views over the lake.

Temple of Apollo folly at Stourhead

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