Sunday, May 2, 2021

Something About Blaise Castle

Loving mere follies.

There have been a few passing references to follies in the Bellairs Corpus. A folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, usually referring to something appearing to have little or no practical purpose. The grand estates described in The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost (1985), The Chessmen of Doom (1989), and The Mansion in the Mist (1992) include small temples or towers or out-buildings purportedly only existing to make a statement on behalf of their owners. The statement seems to be, “I have too much money.”  Shoot, there was even a folly in Haverhill, too: Tilton's Tower.

There are countless follies across the world, too, and there’s one in Bristol I find interesting. I sometimes wonder if the characters see these from afar – or even wonder if such a crazy-looking thing would by chance be home to a hole of time. (On that note, I wonder what detection device one uses to find such a thing.)

The Farr family had the Gothic Revival style Blaise Castle constructed in 1766. The castle was mentioned by Jane Austen in her novel Northanger Abbey:
"Blaize Castle!" cried Catherine. "What is that?"
"The finest place in England—worth going fifty miles at any time to see."
"What, is it really a castle, an old castle?"
"The oldest in the kingdom."
Though, as Sue Wilkes notes on her A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England blog:
"[Catherine] was completely misled...far from being an 'old' castle, the Gothic edifice they planned to visit was only about thirty years old when Jane Austen was composing her novel."
There's more than just castle on the grounds.  There's a house and a hamlet of nine small cottages nearby, all unique with brick chimneys and dormer windows and, for some, thatched roofs. They are examples of the picturesque, an aesthetic ideal introduced in 1782. An oval path links the cottages and encircles the village green with its sundial.

Learn more about the Blaise estate from the Bristol Museums video, below.

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