A folly tower is a tower that was created as an architectural folly, that is, for decorative rather than functional purposes. Folly towers are popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and, unlike other varieties of folly, they often serve a functional purpose as monuments or vistas. They are usually but not always single storeys high.
The word is derived from the French foi (faith), which in turn comes from Latin fides (trust). Thus, a folly is something built out of faith in the hope that others will be fooled into trusting you enough to visit it.
Many folly towers were built by wealthy individuals as a demonstration of their power and authority. Others were built by groups of people interested in showing how much money could be spent on wasting time and energy. The term is also used for similar structures built without planning permission, sometimes as an act of vandalism. These so-called "green" fousls use non-timber materials such as clay, stone, and concrete instead of timber. Some have become known for their environmental awareness, such as the Earthship built by the Bruderhaus collective in Mexico City.
In Britain, most tower forts are found in Devon and Cornwall. They include: Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Penrith; Coombe Hill, near Exeter; and Winterbourne Bassett, near Bristol.
Folly (from French folie, "foolishness"), also known as Eyecatcher, is an expensive, typically nonfunctional construction built to improve a natural scene. The word is used especially of a large, showy house built in a fashionable setting with nothing else like it. The term can also be applied to other large, conspicuous buildings.
The word "folly" is often used to describe an action that seems foolish to others but which one knows to be very important or even necessary. For example, Lincoln was described as a man with a fool's errand when he asked Congress for the authority to suspend slavery in areas under federal control. Yet many people today believe that he was right to do so.
Lincoln knew a thing or two about follies. His own home in Springfield, Illinois is such a structure. It is a small, elegant room with high ceilings and wide-open spaces. Built in 1816, it is only two stories high, but looks from outside like a three-story house!
The first story consists of a living room with a balcony, a dining room, and six bedrooms. The second story has another living room with a balcony, a library, and four more bedrooms. So altogether, there are twenty-two square feet of living space per square foot of floor area!
Towers were formerly employed for defensive or military purposes, and the phrase might refer to a whole stronghold, such as the Tower of London. Towers were integrated into the designs of churches and cathedrals during the Romanesque and Gothic periods, sometimes with a spire or a flat roof. The bell tower was originally used to call people to prayer but it came to be used as an observation post as well.
Now we use phone towers for communications, including phones and data transmissions. They are also used as navigation aids, with the directionality of their signals helping receivers find them even when hidden from view by other buildings or foliage. Some towers remain standing after being used for communications; others are demolished after they have served their purpose.
In modern warfare, artillery batteries are often protected by ramparts or trenches surrounded by a hedge or wall. These provide cover for soldiers and mark the boundary between enemy and friendly forces. If there is no possibility of building new defenses, then old ones must be restored or replaced using proven techniques. This may include repairing or replacing damaged fences or walls or digging trenches in case of threats from approaching enemies.
Finally, towers can be used to transmit energy over long distances without losing strength. We use this property of towers in power transmission lines that carry electricity across country.
While the tower was originally designed as a fortification, its use as a bastion diminished as gunpowder-based siege devices (such as cannons) were more frequently used in Europe. The tower and its grounds now form part of a public park.
It should be noted that the term "bastion" is often misunderstood by people who have not taken the time to learn about its use in military architecture. A bastion is not just any fortified position but rather a highly specialized design of defensive structure used to protect an area behind it. In the case of the Old Tower Bastion this purpose was to protect the city's waterfront from attack.
The Old Tower Bastion is one of only two remaining bastions in London (the other being the Royal Citadel on the River Medway). It can be seen in the Queen's Yard at the base of the Tower Hill stairs and provides a fascinating example of how these early fortress designs were used to defend urban areas rather than simply royal palaces.
The Old Tower Bastion was built between 1450 and 1480 by Richard III for the sum of £10,000. He had been king for just over three years when he was killed in the nearby Palace of Westminster. During his lifetime the Old Tower Bastion was used to hold prisoners of state until their trials could take place.