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The Tower at Berkhampstead

John Varley (1778-1842)


Signed and dated 1823
Signed, further inscribed 'Tower at Berkampstead from a sketch by Dawson Esq' and dated 1823 on reverse


6 ½ x 9 ½ inches

'Chris Beetles Summer Show 2023', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, June-September 2023

The tower in the present image is known as ‘Stratton’s Folly’, named after John Stratton, for whom it was built in 1789. The book, Follies and Grottoes (1953) by Barbara Jones has suggested that John Stratton was a retired Admiral who had the tower built so that he could watch the ships on the Thames from its summit. However this is almost certainly not the case, as Stratton was only in his thirties when the tower was built and was a non-conformist and so would not have been able to hold a commission under the Crown. Stratton’s Folly was likely built as a Prospect Tower, despite its name, with early references made in local records to the fine views from its summit, to the Hertforshire borders with Cambridgeshire and even to St Albans Abbey. The tower was derelict by the mid-1800s and remained so until it was restored and converted into living accommodation in 1971.

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