EDitorial ± 7-May-2008

Follies Of Middle Age

Belle Vue Tower, Briningham Sun's out, all the time in the world and the kids are sixty-five miles away. Headley & Mellenkamp book to hand, let's go folly hunting in North Norfolk.

Destination 1: Belle Vue Tower, a five storey circular beast near Briningham on the binary B1110. Surely not hard to spot. Fail to spot it. Ask directions from a friendly couple out for a walk, and the chap points to a silo-like building in the middle distance. Follow his "back to the main road" advice and park on a track to take a closer look. Brick body, wooden viewpoint on top. Somewhat put off by the Strictly Private: Guard Dog sign. Obviously privately owned, alas.

Destination 2: Randall's Folly, aka The Rocket House. Parked by Salthouse beach, avoiding the trendies grabbing their takeaway lobster from Cookies Crab Shop. Good news is that there's a resourceful fella selling proper coffee from the back of his van. Bad news is that we're over 50 years too late to view the unique sounding folly built by one Onisipheros Randall to entertain his lady friends: it was swept away by the 1953 floods. Darn.

Destination 3: Leicester Monument and the Obelisk at Holkham Hall. Had seen something poking its head out of the trees on the walk back from Wells. That something turned out to be the 37m tall cow-laden edifice to Thomas Coke, 1st Earl Of Leicester, and a dab hand in animal husbandry. Each of the four plinths has an inscription:

  • small in size but great in value
  • live and let live
  • the improvement of agriculture
  • breeding in all its branches (my favourite)

Head back past the perfectly symmetrical Hall, saying hello to the sculptured chap and dog on his bench, and you'll find the perfectly aligned Obelisk. Big needle, points straight up into the big blue sky, no inscription required.

Well earned cuppa and a scone in the stable block cafe. Gift shop was selling various "exclusive giftware" including a series of mugs hailing Heroes of Norfolk. Nelson, of course, plus Coke Of Norfolk and Elizabeth Fry. Even money that future road signs will be welcoming the careful-driving motorist to Fry's County. That'd be another local boy made good, Mr Stephen Fry.