Faringon Folly sits on the top of Folly Hill (also known as Cromwell Battery) and can be climbed on numerous weekends in the year (www.faringdonfolly.org.uk) and each Christmas sports a light that can be seen for miles around.
Folly Hill is located East of Faringdon alongside the A420 that runs between Swindon and Oxford. The tower that perches on top of the hill, surrounded by a well-managed mature woodland, was built by Gerald Tyrwhitt Wilson, 14th Baron Berners in the 1930s.
The tower is reputed to be the last Folly built in England and although called Folly Tower which means that is purely built for decoration, Folly Tower in Faringdon was built so as to be a viewing point and thus serves a purpose.
Lord Berners requested the tower be built in Gothic Style and requested this of his architect friend, Lord Gerald Wellesley. Lord Gerald Wellesley hating this particular style of building promptly built all but the last 10 feet of the tower in classical style whilst the Lord was away. On his return Lord Berners demanded that the remainder of the tower be built in the Gothic style. This difference in style is clearly visible on seeing the tower.
The tower was officially opened on Guy Fawkes Night in 1935. The woodland around the tower was planted by Henry James Pye in the 18th Century who planted an outer ring of Scots Pine and an inner ring of broadleaf trees. A footpath runs through the centre of the woodland up to and past the Folly Tower and then runs in a circle around the outside of the woodland.
In the 1980s Robert Vernon Heber-Percy, who had inherited the Faringdon Estates gave the tower and woodland to Faringdon. It is now owned and managed by Faringdon Folly Trust.
In 2010 the Folly Trust were awarded grants to re-furbish the Tower and surrounding Woodland. Children from the local Schools, Faringdon Infants and Faringdon Junior School have assisted in helping to install sculptures such as the ‘blackbirds in a pie’ installation. There are several examples of chainsaw art within the woodland and in the trees as well as numerous blackbirds to spot plus the fairly useless bridge which is a favourite with the children. These artistic touches to the woodland are on going and make the it an excellent place to visit with friends and family, as well as the addition of benches and information boards at the start of the path through the woodland and at the tower.