Freston Tower

Freston Tower is a six-story red brick folly south of Ipswich, Suffolk in the village of Freston. It stands on the banks of the River Orwell.


Construction date
Arguably the oldest folly in England, the tower has various claims for construction dates, ranging from the 15th to 17th centuries. There is a legend that the tower was built by "Lord de Freston" in the 15th century for his daughter Ellen, so she could study a different subject on a different floor six days of the week: the first floor was dedicated to reception, the second to tapestry working, the third to music, the fourth to painting, the fifth to literature, and the sixth to astronomy, complete with instruments for taking observations. This was written about in a novel by Reverend Richard Cobbold entitled Freston Tower and so should not be taken as fact. There is much evidence against this legend, in fact, (documents referring to the construction of the tower within the twelve years preceding 1569) and it is likely that the tower was constructed by Edmond Latymer as a lookout over Freston Reach of the River Orwell. There are further descriptions suggesting a construction date of 1655. Landmark Trust, a historical building preservation charity and the current owner of Freston Tower, suggests the tower "was built in 1578 by a wealthy Ipswich merchant called Thomas Gooding".

By 1730, the Tower was available to let, complete with furniture. Between 1772 and 1779, Freston Tower was used for small-pox patients under inoculation.

Modern Use
Most recently owned by Claire Hunt until 1999, Freston Tower was donated to the current owner Landmark Trust, a charity that rescues and restores historical buildings. As of 2004, the tower became available to let as a holiday home.

Building Activity