Restoration of ancient folly wins high praise
The restoration of an historic tower folly to its former glory has been officially recognised by a national body. The China Tower at Bicton, which stands above the Otter estuary, underwent extensive refurbishment earlier this year after falling into disrepair.
English Heritage praised the "time, effort and determination" of the Grade II listed building's owners – Clinton Devon Estates – who spent a year carrying out the work. Today it is available to rent through the Landmark Trust.
Greg Luton, the director of the Heritage at Risk Programme, said: "The future of England's Heritage depends very much on local endeavours such as yours to save buildings and places which have a special meaning for the community and which tell us so much about the past, and are our legacy for the future."
The elaborate four-storey tower was originally built as a surprise 88th birthday present for the 1st Baron Rolle in 1839 from his 41-year-old wife.
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But Lord Rolle did not live long enough to enjoy his wife's gift to the full, as he died just two years later. The extravagant lifestyle of the super-rich aristocratic couple, friends of QueenVictoria, was celebrated in April when the fully-restored folly was reopened.
Jonathan Rhind, the conservation architect behind the restoration, said: "It is always rewarding to breathe new life into an old building – particularly one with such a romantic history."