Wilder's Folly, Tilehurst, Berkshire - An Eighteenth Century Love Nest

If you're out walking in the fields around the back of Reading's IKEA, just off the M4 motorway, you'll probably pass horse fields, a little dark, wooded area and then you might be a little stumped as you come into a clearing to find this, in the middle of a wheat field: 

Wilder's Folly, Jo Romero

It's called Wilder's Folly. 

Locally, it's also known as The Pigeon Tower, and was built in 1769 by the Reverend Henry Wilder. His aim, on building this red-bricked tower, was that his love, Joan Thoyts, could look out of her window and see it, and be reminded of him. He would be able to see it, too, to be reminded of her. Awww

Wilder's Folly, Jo Romero

It had the desired effect, because Wilder and Thoyts married that year and went on to have eleven children. 

Originally, the tower had a first floor room that was accessed by steps, but these steps no longer survive. It's not known if Henry and Joan used to meet at the tower, although it makes sense that they would. The tower was only symbolic though and wasn't built for being lived in. With just one tiny, circular room at the top, I imagine Henry and Joan might have climbed up the steps and been able to look out at the Berkshire countryside for miles.

Wilder's Folly, Jo Romero

Under the Victorians, the windows were bricked up and the tower was used as a Dovecote, hence the modern day association as the Pigeon Tower. Slowly it's fallen into disrepair although it still stands, with a tuft of greenery growing out of the roof. 

Have you seen Wilder's Folly? Do you know anything else about its history? 
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. As kids in the 1950's, we would visit the Pigeon Tower and various pill boxes when playing in
    the Sulham area. At that time there were Medieval style stocks in Sulham village,
    across the road from what was then Sulham School. Our haunts also included Tidmarsh.
    There used to be a shop opposite The Greyhound where we bought sweets.
    This, of course, was after Tidmarsh Mill was occupied by Lytton Strachey and Dora
    Carrington. I have lived in Massachusetts now for 35 years.
    I used to live in Tilehurst. My email address PeterSChurch@Charter.net


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