Sunday, 1 March 2009

Seen from Whitlingham: A tower fit for a princess

YOU can’t escape views of Thorpe’s wooded hillside from Whitlingham. And amid the trees, you can’t help noticing a tower fit for Rapunzel either.

It lies on the Pinebanks estate – until recently the home of Norwich Union’s sports complex.
And it was built by a solicitor, John Odin Howard Taylor. The Victorian historian Walter Rye described it as “a big tower, with a wart-like little turret growing out of it. This down south we should call Taylor’s Folly”.

This “wart” contains a spiral staircase leading up to a viewing platform. But these days the whole building is boarded up, a tragic waste of arguably the best view of Norfolk in the entire county.
Taylor was best known for his love of chess, which he apparently loved to play at the top of the tower. He was a key member of the Norfolk and Norwich Chess Club and invited many great players to Pinebanks over the years.

Intriguingly an inscription at its base says that the tower was climbed by Queen Kapiolani of Hawaii in 1887. She was in the country to celebrate Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Did she play chess there too, or just enjoy the Wherryman's Way landscape?

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