Family enjoying time together -
Happy family enjoying time together - courtesy of

In our busy lives we tend to see things that are incongruous but because we are so busy we don’t register what they are and why they are there. During our long hot, or soggy, Summer why not take a close look at some of these oddities, all it will take is a rain-proof, a pair of strong shoes and a packed lunch.

Follies surround us here in Durham and there are a few across the County, and many are worthy of closer inspection.

So, what is a folly? The Oxford Dictionaries say that a folly is ‘a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or Mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park’.

Penshaw Monument the Doric style building, erected in 1844, that stands on the skyline to the East of the County is often thought of as a folly, but is a rather lavish memorial to John G Lambton. The folly is now owned by the National Trust and is worthy of a visit.

In Durham City there are a few follies dotted about that are worthy of closer inspection and make a good days meander.

Old Durham Gardens Gazebo, was designed to have a view of the Cathedral from a mile away, the 17 century construction has been tastefully restored and with the surrounding grounds is a great spot for a picnic and a spot of exploring. There are displays to see and events are run in the indoor space – great if it rains.

The Battery stands in Wharton Park, and it is a ‘Belvedere’, that being a structure that commands a scenic view, it is a mock defensive structure with two parapets connected by a walkway. It was given to the City by W.R Wharton in 1858, he had The Battery installed at Windy Hill, now known as Wharton Park where it offers a grand view of the River Wear and Durham peninsula.

The Count’s House, named after ‘Count’ Joseph Boruwlaski who was a 39” tall. The Count was Polish gentleman who settled in Durham. His home was a purpose built residence given to him by the Cathedrals Prebendary of Durham.

The Obelisk, is a 30 metre high pointed structure that stands on the estate of William Lloyd Wharton at Dryburn Hall. Visionary local benefactor William Lloyd Wharton gave this 98 feet tall obelisk to the University of Durham in 1850 to aid its studies of the skies, modern day astronomy. It stands across the North Road from Wharton Park and is a Grade 2 listed building.

There are follies across the County and beyond, often they a charming, if curious, creations but they are well worth a visit and a great way to explore our own area during the summer. Many of us drive past these follies in our daily lives without noticing that we have purpose made ‘treasure hunt’ on our door step, to miss the opportunity would be folly indeed.



Get Durham Magazine direct to your inbox

* indicates required


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here