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Freston Tower
Landmark Trust
Open Doors 2000
Cobbold book
Historical papers
Me & the Tower
Tower Freston Tower

Whenever I see a guidebook for Suffolk or for buildings of interest around the country, I go straight to the index in search of the Tower. Here's what I've pulled together so far.

Rick O'Brien
East Anglian Curiosities (1992)

Lord de Freston's tower, overlooking the River Orwell and designed by William Latimer, is probably England's oldest folly. It originates from the time of Henry VIII and was planned as a remote place of study for Lord de Freston's daughter Ellen. It is contemporary with Erwarton and appears to be made of similar red bricks.

Ellen had the use of each floor of the tower for a specific purpose, hence the much quoted instruction:

The Lower Room to charity from 7 to 8 o'clock
The Second to working tapestry from 9 to 10
The Third to music from 10 to noon
The Fourth to painting from 12 to 1
The Fifth to literature from 1 to 2
The Sixth to astronomy at even

When she had time for lunch we'll never know!

Nikolaus Pevsner
The Buildings of England - Suffolk (2nd edition, 1991)

Called in 1561 "built within these twelve years". Only about 200 yards from the estuary and overlooking it dramatically. A "standing" or look-out tower, built by one of the Latymer family. Red brick with blue diapering. Six storeys high, 10x12ft in area. Polygonal angle buttresses ending in polygonal pinnacles.

A Typographical & Historical Description of the County of Suffolk (1829)

The chief thing worth notice here is the tower, which is a square strong building of six storeys high...a winding steeple staircase...It is not easy to say for what purpose, nor is it certainly known, at what time this tower was built...reasonable to suppose work of Latymers...seems to have been contrived by some whimsical man for taking rather a better view of the river Orwell than can be had on the neighbouring hill.

Arthur Mee
The King's England - Suffolk (1947)

FRESTON. Miles away we see the remarkable pinnacled turret of the strangest house in the county, Freston Tower, a Suffolk skyscraper built in Tudor days. It is built of brick, rises in six stages with turrets at the angles, and is about 12 feet by ten. Each stage has a single chamber, a winding staircase linking them and leading to the summit, which has a lofty parapet, and superb views over land and sea. The purpose of this six-chambered tower is lost in mystery. Tradition has it that a freakish Latymer built it...

Archie Gordon
Towers (1979)

Standing at the summit of a steep parkscape where cattle graze, above the south bank of the Orwell estuary downstream from Ipswich port, Freston Tower is probably the oldest folly of them all...

W. G. Arnott
Orwell Estuary (????)

...a look-out for signalling ships coming to moorings at the bridge...

Joanna Billing
The Hidden Places of East Anglia (1991)

Some say that Freston Tower is a pure folly, and the oldest one in England, if so.

Seen any more? Drop me an email.


Amended 14-Jun-2004 by EFB