Sway Tower. (A Folly!)

Wednesday 15th April 2015.


Peterson’s Folly.

Sway is perhaps best known for its Sway Tower. It is a Grade II listed building. It is also known as “Peterson’s Folly”

Built by Andrew Thomas Turton Peterson on his private estate, its design was influenced by the follies Peterson had seen during his time in India. It is constructed entirely out of concrete made with Portland cement, with only the windows having iron supports. It remains the tallest non-reinforced concrete structure in the world.

The tower is visible from much of the New Forest, and most of the western Solent. A smaller 50-foot (15 m) folly, built as a ‘prototype’, stands in a group of trees to the north of the taller tower.There are many small concrete features (mainly walls) to be found in Milford, Sway and Hordle.


Sway tower is visible from all over the southern part of the New Forest. It stands 218 feet high, too tall and slender to be mistaken for a church tower. From close to it is elegant, with Gothic detailing to the windows. The tower, and many of the buildings around, were built from concrete, then a new material, in the second half of the 19th century by A.T.T.

Peterson, a retired Indian judge who had great faith in its potential. He was also interested in spiritualism, and he is supposed to have been in touch with Sir Christopher Wren, via a medium, for advice on the design of the tower (which must have been difficult for Wren as he had no knowledge of concrete)

Peterson’s other concrete buildings were constructed before the tower, and are mostly useful-many walls, a house with a tower, and so on. The tower seems to have no purpose: he apparently wanted to put a light on the top, but this was prevented because it would have been a danger to shipping. The view from the top, up 330 steps, is said to be wonderful. He intended that he and his wife should be buried at the base of the tower, under two table-like stones, but his wife insisted on an orthodox burial in the churchyard at Sway. Peterson died in London, and his ashes were buried in the tower. They were exhumed in 1957 and reburied in his wife’s grave.

Work on the tower started in 1879, and finished in 1885. Local unemployed men were used, and well paid. No scaffolding was used the concrete being cast in wooden frames 18 inches high, and a crane inside the building hauled materials up into place. 

Sway Tower was built by eccentric Yorkshireman Andrew Peterson in 1879

Story /Novel Update

On a previous post I told everyone that I had finished my novel ‘Birth of the Wizard Prince’ well, instead of editing I decide to dig out my original story ‘King of the Wood’ (subtitled Knight of the Oak)which was born in my head way back in the 1970’s and was eventually started for my 2011 Nanowrimo. I had never finished, it has been on my hard drive since then. I had now read through it editing it where necessary and adding or improving what I could and just this week I have started writing and hopefully finish it shortly. I am hoping I will stick to my story line and not keep veering off in directions.

RestawyleGerry A/C 2015.


30 thoughts on “Sway Tower. (A Folly!)

    1. Yes it can be seen as one approaches Sway from Brockenhurst. I and a few friends snuck in it for a dare/fun. It has had a lot of history,, I believe it was part of a bed and breakfast, not sure if it still is.. thank you and welcome always…

    1. Thank you and yes this original story was in longhand in my note books which I have managed to keep hold of since the early 70’s back in 2011 it was great to start to put it down on paper so to speak.. it deserves my attention at last… always welcome and appreciated…

    1. Couldn’t happen today though, what with all the rules and laws and Health and safety heehee! yes if not for them what would we tallk about today.. thank you John. appreciated….

    1. Hey Izzy, they do have that interest and glad others enjoy them as well. Yes I am now managing to move my characters on to solve the problem.. they are fighting .. welcome always and appreciated…

  1. Interesting looking tower. I bet the view is amazing from the top. Good luck on your story. I hope you stay focused, driven and motivated to finish. Stay on track. I’m hoping to find time this weekend to work on mine. Hugs to you and the girls! 😉

    1. The view is impressive,,,cannot describe not that good.. I have continued with story and have the ending of this one in mind,, with maybe a part two to follow up… Squidge, you keep at it you will get there some day…

  2. Fascinating story. That’s something I’d like to see. Thanks for the history. I’ll have to google it to learn more.

    Also, great news on the writing! I just had a similar experience and am working on a 10 year old manuscript. Doesn’t it feel great to be writing again!

    1. Thank you, the building can be an impressive sight with history attached… That is good, I had to read through mine to recap all the characters and the basics.. it seems to have worked and am now continuing hoping to finish… best of luck with yours update as we progress. welcome always….

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