Broadway Tower - Cotswolds Travel Guide
Located 1.5 miles South East of Broadway, Broadway Tower stands at the second highest point along the Cotswolds escarpment. At 1024 feet above sea level, the 65 foot folly built for the Earl of Coventry in 1798. There are many claims to why the Tower was built, the most likely was to celebrate the centenary of the earldom (1697) However there are many others claims, our favourite was it was built as a hunting lodge so the Earl could escape from his wife, an early version of a 'man-cave'! Either way the structure is known as a 'folly'. Follies were extremely fashionable during the 1700s & come in many different forms, from hermit caves to castle ruins. Follies were a whim of the wealthy & added interest to the landscape. Broadway Tower does exactly that, when admired from a distance it is perfectly positioned & would not be out of place in a fairy-tale or landscape painting.
Over the years Broadway Tower has had numerous uses, William Morris stayed here as a holiday retreat, immersing himself in the surrounding countryside & finding inspiration for his designs. A gentleman called Sir Thomas Phillips, who lived in nearby Middle Hill house, an ardent bibliophile, the Tower housed his own printing press. Phillips born in 1792, can be thanked by British scholars for his dedication to preserving manuscripts, in a letter to a friend he wrote 'I wish to have a copy of every book in the world' Although he didn't manage to collect 'every' book, by the time he died in 1872 he had amassed the largest collection of manuscript material in the 19th century.
On fine days it is said that from the Tower one can see up to 16 counties! So unsurprisingly during the World War II it provided the ideal lookout. The Tower was used as an observation point, an early warning signal for aircraft heading to Birmingham, where the majority of Britain's ammunition factories were located. The theme of acting as an early warning signal continued during the Cold War, the nuclear bunker onsite just beyond the Tower is testament to past unrest. It is easy to while away a few hours at Broadway Tower, there is a wonderful circular walk, where you can spot the herd of red deer, climb to the top of the Tower for fabulous views or explore the nuclear bunker. After all this exploring you must have built up an appetite, so the onsite cafe is the perfect spot to soak up those far-reaching views.
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