A housing provider has recently announced that it will be funding a lengthy restoration project to preserve a tower said to have been the inspiration for one of those imagined by millions in the Lord of the Rings stories.
Trident Reach the People Charity (known simply as ‘Reach’), which provides accommodation and support services for vulnerable people across the Midlands, manages the Grade II listed building, known as Perrott’s Folly.
The building stands eight stories and 96 feet tall in Edgbaston, Birmingham; incorporating 139 stone steps. Each floor is in a different shape and style, with the highlight found at the top: an ornate ceiling featuring Gothic plasterwork that depicts country pursuits such as hunting and farming.
As a folly, its purpose was never as a residence. Built originally by eccentric landowner John Perrott, it is thought that its original purpose was as a hunting lodge to entertain guests and enjoy stunning views across the area.
A more fanciful theory suggests that he used it to spy on his wife when he suspected her of having an affair with the gamekeeper…
Later, in 1884, pioneering glass-maker and meteorologist Abraham Follett Osler began using the building for weather observations. As the Edgbaston Observatory, it became part of one of the world’s first regular weather forecasting services.
In 2005, Perrott’s Folly Company worked with the Birmingham Conservation Trust to carry out emergency repair works to stabilise the structure and save it from collapse. Now Reach are seeking a further £1m to restore the building to its former glory.
As to the Tolkien connection, the author grew up in Birmingham and lived in Stirling Road as a young boy. He would have passed Perrott’s Folly and the neighbouring Edgbaston Waterworks tower on his way to and from school and it is believed that the structures had such an impact on his young mind that they inspired the Two Towers described in his most famous work, the Lord of the Rings.
Reach’s Benjamin Bradley, who is responsible for the building, commented:
“Perrott’s Folly is an awe-inspiring structure which towers over the nearby suburbs, it is steeped in history and, as a model for the Two Towers, is believed to be a key inspiration behind The Lord of the Rings – one of the best-loved stories of all time and a fantasy which has gripped the imagination of millions of people worldwide.
“Such an impressive landmark should be brought back into use for the community to safeguard its future and to allow the public – including Lord of the Rings fans – to enjoy it for many years to come.”
SRJ / LCB