Guide to Faringdon & the local area. Discover and enjoy the very best Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and the Cotswolds have to offer.

THE FOLLY TOWER

Faringdon Hill is east of the town, overlooking the roads to Oxford/Swindon and Stanford in the Vale. It’s top is flattened and almost circular, with a clear view to the North across the Thames Valley, and southwards to the Berkshire Downs. Like the larger and slightly higher Badbury Hill to the West it was ideal for its ancient ditched defensive ring.

It was fortified by supporters of Matilda, legitimate heir to Henry II, in the campaign to oust the de facto King Stephen; he had it quickly razed.

It was fortified again by the troops of Oliver Cromwell to neutralise, unsuccessfully, the Royalist garrison based on Faringdon House. Its summit, being part of the manor, was planted with Scotch firs by the Pye family, at the time Faringdon House was rebuilt.

Lord Berners employed some of his estate workers on building a brick ‘folly’, 100 feet high, among the pines; it was designed by his architect friend Lord Wellesley; its completion was celebrated with fireworks on Guy Fawkes Day, 5th November 1935.

During the World War II it provided an observation post for the Home Guard in conjunction with their pillbox below, beside the crest of London Road. In May 1982 it was restored and reopened by Lord Berners’s heir, Robert Heber Percy, who gave the tower and four acres with its shrouding pines for the benefit of the people of Faringdon and the surrounding district.

In 1999, to mark the Millennium, Peter White designed and set up, with the blessing of all the relevant authorities, a rotating searchlight at the top of the tower. This ‘Millennium Lighthouse’ could be seen from many miles during the hours of darkness between the New Year and Easter. Since 2000, Peter White has provided various shaped lights that shine from the top of the tower throughout the Christmas and New Year period.

More information, photos and history can be found on the Faringdon Folly website.