An historic folly built for the whim of a Princess

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty
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The Grade II Grimston Park Tower, near to Kirby Wharfe, North Yorkshire is part of an estate with a rich history.

Bought in 1812 by the first Lord Howden, former ADC to the Duke of Wellington, but it was his son, a British general and diplomat who is responsible for the house and the tower.

The second Lord Howden comissioned architect, Decimus Burton to rebuild the John Carr house for himself and his bride, the notorious Princess Catherine Bagration. At 15 years his senior she was feted throughout Europe as a great beauty and notorious for her outrageous behaviour. Burton’s brief was to recreate the old house in an italianate style which he did, even adding a conservatory similar to those he designed at Kew but on a smaller scale.

The water tower or observation tower is sited in the surrounding parkland and was part of this restoration being was built around 1840.

Tooled in magnesian limestone with a lead roof. The square body of the tower which takes on the Egyptian style that was enjoying a revival during this period, tapers to the octagonal cupola at the top.

The tower itself has four stages with windows to allow those walking up the spiral staircase inside to see across the park during their climb to the top.

An interesting feature on the side entrance which has an eight fielded-panel tapered door, are the remains of the original decorative ironwork on the top two panels.

Unfortunately Lord Howden and the Princess divorced after 11 years of marriage and the estate was sold.

It was bought by the first Lord Londesborough who commissioned William Nesfield to design the ornamental gardens. It then passed in turn to his son.

In 1872 wealthy cotton manufacturer and MP, John Fielden bought the estate comprising of the house, 600 acres and the outlying farms. It has remained in the Fielden family who have embarked on a long term programme of restoration and diversification. ​Technical details​: Nikon D3s camera, 12-24mm lens with an exposure of 1/160th sec @ f/8, ISO 200.