Enfilade

New Book | The English Folly: The Edifice Complex

Posted in books by Editor on June 16, 2020

From Historic England and Liverpool UP:

Gwyn Headley and Wim Meulenkamp, The English Folly: The Edifice Complex (Historic England, 2020), 260 pages, ISBN: 978-1789621976 (hardcover), £60 / ISBN: 978-1789622126 (paperback), £30.

If this were a novel, the tales of astounding wealth, sexual perversion, murder, munificence, rape, insanity, brutality, slavery, religious mania, selfishness, snobbery, charity, suicide, generosity, theft, madness, wickedness, failure, and eccentricity which unfold in these pages would be too concentrated to allow for the willing suspension of disbelief. All these sins and virtues, and more, are displayed by the characters in this book, some exhibiting several of them simultaneously. Folly builders were not as we are. They never built what we now call follies. They built for beauty, utility, improvement; it is only we, struggling after them with our imperfect understanding, who dismiss their prodigious constructions as follies. Follies can be found around the world, but England is their spiritual home. Having written the definitive books on follies in Great Britain, Benelux, and the USA, Headley and Meulenkamp have turned their attention to the folly builders themselves, people so blinded by fashion or driven by some nameless ideology that they expended great fortunes on making their point in brick, stone and flint. Most follies are simply misunderstood buildings, and this book studies the motives, characters, decisions and delusions of their builders. If there was madness in their building, fortunately there was no method in it.

Gwyn Headley is Publisher at Heritage Ebooks, Managing Director at fotoLibra and Co-founder of The Folly Fellowship. Wim Meulenkamp is President of The DonderbergGroup: Foundation for Follies, Garden Ornaments and the Architecture of Amusement.