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The Blake Gardens Folly

The folly not long before it was removed. Note the metal bracing holding the weather-worn structure together.

The Blake Gardens were opened in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and dedicated to Robert Blake, a seventeenth century naval hero who was born in Bridgwater. The land had previously been the grounds of Binford House, which stood where the Carnegie Library stands today. The land was acquired by the Bridgwater Corporation in 1898 from Mr. R.C. Else, who was Mayor in the previous year. The Library was built and opened in 1905. Some of the features of the Gardens, including the arch, were presumably standing before the park was created and belonged to Binford House.

The folly appears to have been of two halves. The lower portion looks to have been specifically built for the structure. The upper half was the upper portion of some gothic window tracery of the perpendicular style. This could have been an off-the-shelf piece, bought new for the folly from a supplier of gothic revival masonry. It could also have been a cast off from one of the local churches engaged in renovation, or a piece of salvage from a medieval or gothic revival building that had been demolished. There is certainly a strong resemblance with this window and the old east window of St. Mary's church here.

Local word is that the structure was taken down in the late twentieth century for health and safety reasons.

The Folly and the small brick and stone shed which has likewise been demolished.

The following letter appeared in the Mercury on 8th February 1939.

A well-known writer on archaeology when visiting Bridgwater last summer made a valid suggestion regarding the origin of the arch in Blake Gardens. He thought that the tracery probably came from the north transept of St. Marys. On measurements being taken of the arch, it was found that they corresponded with those of the window, and further enquiries resulted in good reason for believing that the transfer took place in the middle of the 19th century.

T. Bruce Dilks

The folly became such a landmark for the town that it was used for the cover of the 1939 Town Guide:


Squibbs,P., Squibbs' History of Bridgwater (1982)
Lawrence and Lawrence, A History of Bridgwater (2005)

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