Bollitree Castle, near Weston-under-Penyard, is a great example of a folly. It has some amazing gardens and is a selection of very interesting buildings. It is not usually open to the public as it is a private house, but there is periodically an open day, and the following photos were taken during one such event.
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Bollitree Castle is made up of a house and gardens with a stable yard. The oldest part of the house is believed to date back to the 15th century. The "castle" is built to look like one from the 15th century but was actually built in the 18th century. The crenellations and Queen Anne façadeand were added by one of the family at a later date.
Records for the "castle" go back to 1445 when Richard Ap Meryk was born at Bollitree Castle. He became Richard Amerike and then moved to Bristol where he became a very wealthy merchant. He was also founder member of Bristol's Society of Merchant Adventurers and he had his own "Merchant's Mark" which was, at the time, the equivalent of a modern trade mark and a real sign of his status.
Later, in 1776, Walter Meyrick, who was a Parliamentarian who fought against Charles I in the Civil War, left what was known as Bollitree House to his nephew, Thomas Hopkins [Merrick], from Pencoyd.
Thomas added the castellations and moat because he was in love with a Spanish girl who refused to live in "wet and draughty old England" and she wanted to live in a castle. Even though he made her a "castle", she still spurned him. As a result, after his death, it is reputed that Thomas’s ghost haunts the lawn on which he built a decorative lake (as seen in the photo below), the Folly (seen to the right) and Ha-Ha (the small wall in the forground of the photo at the top of the page).
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The stable block and yard is also very impressive and has many gargoyles and carvings.
Gargoyles on the buildings (Click for a larger image)
The Moat with it's island and willow tree, which is a relatively recent addition, was a key part of making it into "true" castle.
My Gran used to live in Weston-under-Penyard and one of my earliest memories as a child was walking up to the moat to feed the ducks that lived on the island.
Links to America
Then in 1497 a Richard Amerike, possibly the same one as mentioned above, became the chief sponsor of John Cabot's expedition to New Foundland. It has been suggested that the new land was named after him as a reward for his sponsorship. Furthermore, his coat of arms was a shield of stars and stripes which could well have formed the basis of the American flag.
Old Photos of Bollitree Castle
These are some old postcard views of Bollitree Castle.
[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]