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Me & the Tower
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Me & the Tower

As you quite possibly know by now, my middle name is Freston.

And, when I was growing up, I was aware that there was a very small place of the same name just outside Ipswich. Not sure that I thought much more about it, truth be told.

East Anglian Curiosities
Then, around 1992, someone kindly bought me a book by Rick O'Brien called East Anglian Curiosities, subtitled "A Guide to Follies and Strange Buildings, Curious Tales and Unusual People" (pictured on the cover, by the way, is The House In The Clouds at Thorpe Ness). There in this fascinating book, right in the middle on page 64, was curiosity 41 out of 80, "A Place for Study". This was when I became aware of Freston Tower.

Shortly after this some friends came to visit for a day, and I thought it would be good to go and find this odd structure for the first time. We headed out under the Orwell bridge to Freston, and I realised that there are no signs to the Tower. In fact, there's no indication at all that anything remotely interesting is there. Following the directions in the book, we parked in a layby and made our way along a public footpath, steered past some cows and buildings, and there it was, standing on private land. I'd half hoped it would be open to the public, but no.

Funnily enough, when we were there, a man was out walking in the other direction and asked if we knew anything about the Tower. I told him what I'd read in Rick O'Brien's book, and couldn't resist mentioning the connection with my name. Whereupon he bowed and offered to become my first subject. Which was nice.

On The Web (Part 1)
Fast forward to 1999, and I decided to try to build my first web pages. Having found zero trace of Freston Tower on the Internet I put together a single page of text, interspersed it with a few scanned snaps I'd taken earlier that year, and bingo!, I was on the web.

A few weeks later I was chatting to a chap named Martin Brazill at work who lived a little further out on the Shotley peninsula. He biked through Freston every day, and I asked if he knew about the Tower. Sure enough he did, and he went on to mention that he'd got a book about it. Not a guidebook, but an ancient novel! Again, I'd not come across this before, but then again had no reason to suspect that such a thing existed. He was good enough to lend me his copy for me to take a look at.

On The Web (Part 2)
Then, with one short trip to the Suffolk Record Office, I found two historical papers packed with good information. With this wealth of new material I spent several weeks, on and off, redesigning my pages.

Over time, though, I started to resent forking out money each month to my service provider for web access and web space, since many companies were beginning to offer this for free. And so my site disappeared towards the end of 2000.

Anglia Television
Very shortly before my web pages vanished I received this email out of the blue, dated Monday 20 November 2000:

Dear Ed,

I am researching for a new Anglia History Production which is focusing on the waterways of our region. We will be filming the Orwell programme on the 26th and 27th and 30th November. My Director has asked me to find out about the possibility of including the tower in the programme. Our presenter is Bryan McNerney (currently to be seen on Town and Country). Filming would require access to the tower for half a day and if possible our director would like to include the view from the top of the tower.

I hope to hear from you soon.

This was from a researcher for Anglia Television as they were about to make the Riddles of the River series. I can only assume that she saw my info on the web and came to the conclusion that I was the owner. Sadly I had to confess this wasn't the case.

So, I don't think it's mine, but I'm waiting for the right document to show up at the Suffolk Record Office to prove otherwise!

      East Anglian Curiosities

EFB up the tower, May 2000

Amended 12-Jun-2001 by EFB