The Folly at Poldowrian

by Valerie Hadley


The Folly at Poldowrian

There is a small island on the pond in my garden, in the middle of which a most unattractive and ageing pampas grew.  This was hacked out in 2004, leaving a bare brown patch that was calling for a striking plant of some sort, or perhaps a little statue.  I searched in vain for something suitable only goddesses, gnomes, or ugly creatures were to be found!

Then, last spring, I thought to myself, ‘what about a little Folly?’  – something I have long wanted to have in the garden.  So I said to my friend and neighbour, Bill Penman, who also helps me in the garden, ‘ would you build me a folly on the island?’ knowing the answer would be ‘Yes’, as he can make anything and no-one would be able to do it better.  ‘A little round one?’  ‘No, too difficult, but it could be octagonal’, and so it is, but still has the appearance of being round.

In April last year deep foundations were dug, then the base was built of serpentine, large rocks found about the garden, and in old serpentine quarries on the cliff.  Next, wooden walls with four windows, and finally a slate roof with lead seams.  Inside is a cedar seat, and we have cut a window in the trees at the bottom of the garden to allow a sea view.

Bill Penman’s aunt is a long-standing member of the Edward Thomas Fellowship, and from his poems, Bill brought me one that perfectly fits this place, and my feelings for it.  He carved it on the beams inside, where the walls meet the roof 2 lines in each section:


An acre of land between the shore and the hills
Upon a ledge that shows my kingdoms three,
The lovely visible earth and sky and sea,
Where what the curlew needs not, the farmer tills:

A house that shall love me as I love it,
Well-hedged, and honoured by a few ash-trees
That linnets, greenfinches, and goldfinches
Shall often visit and make love in and flit:

A garden I need never go beyond,
Broken but neat, whose sunflowers every one
Are fit to be the sign of the Rising Sun:
A spring, a brook’s bend, or at least a pond:

For these I ask not, but, neither too late
Nor yet too early, for what men call content,
And also that something may be sent
To be contented with, I ask of fate.

The Folly was finished in November 2005, and a dozen or so friends came to celebrate its opening.

Valerie Hadley’s cliff top garden at Poldowrian, The Lizard, is a triumph of forty years inspired gardening.
Garden and Museum of Prehistory open by appointment.  Tel: 01326 280468.