Perrott's Folly, grid reference SP047862, also known as The Monument, or The Observatory, is a 29-metre (96-foot) tall tower, built in 1758. It is a Grade II* listed building in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, England.
The tower is one of Birmingham's oldest surviving architectural features. Built in the open Rotton Park by John Perrott, who lived in Belbroughton, the tower now stands high above the local residential and business housing.
There are many stories to explain why the tower was built. One is that John Perrott wanted to be able to survey his land and perhaps entertain guests. Or the tower might have been used to spot animals for hunting. Or that he built the tower so that he could see his wife's grave, 15 miles away.
Use as a weather observatory
From 1884 to 1979 the tower was used as a weather recording station for the Birmingham and Midland Institute. In 1966 the Geography Department of the University of Birmingham took over the running of the observatory until operations were transferred to the main campus.
The Tolkien connection
It has been suggested, but not proven, that the towers of Perrott's Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks may have influenced references to towers in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, who lived nearby as a child.
The Perrott's Folly Company was formed in 1984 to renovate the tower and make it accessible to the public. The company obtained grants from English Heritage and Birmingham City Council to secure the building.
In the summer of 2005 the Perrott's Folly Company in partnership with Birmingham Conservation Trust completed work to stabilise the structure. However money still has to be found to complete repairs to some of the key features. In April 2008 the tower was temporarily opened to the public, housing an art exhibition in co-operation with the Ikon Gallery. It was opened again in May 2008 as part of a weekend of celebrations of the life of JRR Tolkien. The Perrott's Folly Company was formally closed in August 2009. The tower is now owned by Trident Housing Association and managed by Trident Reach the People Charity, who are running an arts programme from the tower.
In 2013 a fundraising drive was launched to raise £1million to complete the restoration and open it permanently to the public.
- "J. R. R. Tolkien". birmingham.gov.uk. 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- "Tolkien's Birmingham". VirtualBrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
- "Perrott’s Folly". Birmingham Conservation Trust. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- Loat, Sarah. "Perrott's Folly re-opens to the public". BBC Birmingham. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- "'Tolkien tower' opens to public". BBC News. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- "Bought for £1, the mysterious tower that inspired JRR Tolkien". The Guardian. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- A Guide to the Buildings of Birmingham, Peter Leather, ISBN 0-7524-2475-0
- Images of England - photograph and details from listed building text
- Heritage at Risk: Perrott's+Folly