Perrott’s Folly was built in 1758 by John Perrott, who was a local landowner. There has been much speculation over the reason for the folly, including tales of him spying on his unfaithful wife or the opposite; to look lovingly upon her grave in the Clent Hills following her death. However, the most common reason for constructing a folly is as a status symbol – most likely as an observatory and place for entertaining in Perrott’s case.
Perrott’s Folly has been associated with the works of J.R.R Tolkein, along with several other buildings in Birmingham. The folly may have been inspiration for one of the ‘Two Towers’ in his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The building was used for observing weather in 1884 by meteorologist Abraham Follet Osler. It became The Edgbaston Observatory, and functioned as a weather forecasting station until 1979.
Since then, the building fell into disrepair. A project to stop the building collapsing ended in 2005, which focussed on repairing the oak beams at the bottom of the tower and the bricks building the structure.
Now, the building is managed by the charity Trident Reach the People who bought it in 2013 for £1. They are continuing ‘The Folly Project’ which aims to discover the buildings heritage through a contemporary art and architecture programme.
Perrott’s Folly is Georgian, built in the Gothic style. The tower holds 139 steps, which lead to separate, small rooms. Every floor of the building has unique windows, with views stretching up to 10 miles away.
Location: Waterworks Road, Edgbaston
Style: Red brick folly
Status: Grade II*
Use: Restored community project