Old John

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For the circus elephant, see John L. Sullivan (elephant).
Old John

Old John is a folly atop the highest hill in Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, England. It was built in 1784, by Thomas Sketchley of Anstey as a mock ruin.[1] It was adapted in the 19th century by the seventh Earl of Stamford and Warrington to serve as an observation tower for the practice circuit he laid out for his horses, along with the building of a stable block lower down the hill.[1] It is well known for its "mug-shape" — there was a longer section of wall adjoining the tower after the 19th century extension but this reduced in size over the years leaving the present 'handle' shape.[1] The mug shape has given rise to false accounts of the tower's origins supposedly relating to a beer-loving miller who was killed after being hit by a pole during a bonfire.[1]

In the past it has also been used as a meeting place for hunters with their fox hounds, and a luncheon house for shooting parties in the park.[2]

Adjacent to the tower is a toposcope installed in 1953.[2]

Coordinates: 52°41′46.76″N 1°13′26.07″W / 52.6963222°N 1.2239083°W / 52.6963222; -1.2239083


  1. ^ a b c d Stevenson, Joan & Squires, Anthony (1999) Bradgate Park: Childhood Home of Lady Jane Grey, Kairos Press, ISBN 1-871344-23-9, p. 55
  2. ^ a b Stevenson, Aubrey (1977) Get to Know Bradgate, Leicestershire County Council Libraries and Information Service, p. 17

Old John Tower at Bradgate Country Park go Leicestershire: The official online guide to Leicester and Leicestershire