Flounders' Folly is a tower, built in 1838, on Callow Hill, between Craven Arms and Ludlow, Shropshire. The tower is approximately 80 feet tall and 16 feet square and is clearly visible (on the skyline) from the Newport-Crewe railway line, just north of Craven Arms and also from the busy A49 Shrewsbury to Hereford road.
Many walks ascend the hill from various points and it is mentioned in many walking guides to Shropshire.
The views from the top encompass the Shropshire Hills 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', Wenlock Edge, the Long Mynd, both Clee Hills and the Radnorshire hills. Views to the south reach as far as Mortimer Forest, the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains and Malvern Hills.
The tower was built in 1838 by Benjamin Flounders (1768—1846) to mark the boundaries between four large estates and maybe to celebrate his attaining his 70th year, his 'threescore years and ten'.
Over the years following Flounders' death, the tower slowly fell into disrepair on its exposed hilltop location. Already in need of restoration in the 1920s, by the 1980s it was in a dangerous and unstable condition; the castellated top of the tower collapsed in 1987. It had changed hands several times and was owned for a time at least by the actress Julie Christie who had a house nearby for a few years.
In 2001 the tower was bought by what became The Flounders Folly Trust. With public interest awakened and funding from public and other sources such as Lottery Fund forthcoming, a restoration programme was commenced in 2001 and completed by 2005. At its re-opening HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, attended to declare the folly restoration complete, and the tower is now open to the public at least once a month.
There are a few apocryphal stories, now spun into the local and regional folklore, traditionally known and told locally that it was built so that Mr Flounders could see his ships coming in and out of the Bristol Channel (or the Mersey)—neither of which are actually visible from the tower—and that when he discovered that he could not do so because of high ground in between he killed himself by jumping off the top of the tower, or conversely descended the tower in a great huff roaring "Take it down!" meaning either the tower or the high ground. Some say he wanted to see his house in Ludlow from the tower.
Alas for the legends, there are no records suggesting that Benjamin Flounders owned or rented a house in Ludlow, where although he was for very many years a very frequent visitor he preferred to stay at The Angel on Broad Street. There are also no known records of his having ships or interests in Liverpool or Bristol, as he was a man hailing from County Durham.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Flounders' Folly)
- Location map: 52°27’38"N, 2°47’43"W
- Flounders Folly Restoration Project
- Images of Flounders Folly on 'Odd-stuff!'
- Follies, Headley & Meulenkamp, Jonathan Cape 1986 ISBN 0-224-02790-5
- Monumental Follies, Barton, Lyle Publications 1972 ISBN 0-902921-07-X
- The Middle Marches, Baker & Morris, Robert Hale 1983 ISBN 0-7090-0923-2
- Flounders Folly - 'The Story of A Shropshire Folly and Its Builder' Belinda Cousens / The Flounders Folly Trust 2005
- 50 Walks in Shropshire, Julie Royle, AA, 2003, ISBN 0-7495-3632-2