Saturday 13th April 2013
Peterson’s Folly, Listed Grade II
Described as “Hampshire’s finest folly”, Peterson’s Tower at Sway is the biggest, the most impressive and the oddest. Andrew Thomas Turton Peterson was born in Yorkshire in 1813 and died in London in 1906. In the intervening 93 years he ran away to sea, became a lawyer, went to India, made a fortune, retired to Hampshire, became a Spiritualist, and built Peterson’s Tower – the first major building in Britain to be built from concrete. Even if it isn’t the tallest folly in the country, its 218ft and 13 storeys make it spectacular by any standards. It is held by most to be undeniably ugly and the stories about the ghost of Sir Christopher Wren inspiring its design, the rumours that Peterson was buried at the top of the tower, and its total unsuitability for the New Forest make it an even more compelling building.
New Forest Landmark
“He was supposed to have had help from Sir Christopher Wren through a medium called Mary Ann Girling, but as Sir Christopher Wren didn’t use concrete we don’t know how useful this contact would have been!” explains Ann.
The tower took five years to build and was completed in 1885. Before he set to work on the tower, Peterson built a prototype – a smaller 50 foot concrete tower which still sits 150 metres north of the main tower.
Peterson’s Tower is privately owned – there is no public access, the best view is from Flexford Lane.
Village in England
Sway is a village in Hampshire in the New Forest national park in England. The civil parish was formed in 1879, when lands were taken from the extensive parish of Boldre.
It was his intentions for him and his wife to be buried at the base of the tower. but his wife decided against it and was buried in the local Sway churchyard. But Peterson died while in London, and was cremated, and his ashes buried at the base,. In 1957 they were exhumed and buried with his wife in the churchyard.
Work on the Tower started in 1879 and took 6 years to complete, and work force, highly paid, locals people including the followers of the Hordle Shakers followers of Mary Girling. See previous posts.
In the late 1990’s it has been converted into a New Forest bed and breakfast.
Where I once lived, Brockenhurst, if you travel approx.’ 3-4 miles south east across some nice heath land you would come to a very quaint little village, Sway. In my younger days Sway was not a place one stopped off, but was often travelled through going to other towns or villages of places of interest, because the main road went passed by the edge of the village. But if one did bother to stop then what would you find, not much still. A couple of pubs a hotel a small railway station and garage. There is however a fair bit of history and this Tower takes main stage.
If you read my last post ‘Jumper to Glory Jane’ this is the tower that garage robber ran to came to his demise, and the ghost of Mary Girling leapt out through the top floor window.
Myself and three others, John, Nick and Archie the driver, came upon it to which we decided to investigate. I am talking about the 1974’ish time. We were just driving around and the guy that was driving was always a little worse for wear. Even when he was sober he was always scatty.We were all in a small mini and it never had brakes that worked. Out of the car we all went into the tower, at this period it was not locked or guarded, and we all scrambled up the stairs and ladders and spent an hour of two at the top of the tower.This was also before mobile phones so no electrical gear here yet. During our time of awe-inspiring sight’s looking out, but did we at the time ever think of the history that was behind it. The builder Andrew Peterson, and Sir Christopher Wren and Mary Girling. no we just had a smoke and chat and left with our imprint of history buried in the walls.
However, Archie, a larger than life character, who was into the drug scene rather strongly, unfortunately,but this day he swore he had not indulged, felt uneasy while we sat at the top. We just thought of him being his out of his head self. When eventually after a awhile he just acted very strangely and said he could not stay any longer. When at the bottom and he had calmed down he said he felt that we were being watched by someone/ something.I dont know how true this was, but with Archie it could have been so, but none of us ever returned.
Austin Mini 850
Exact colour and style, bet the brakes work on this though.
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