English Heritage gives stamp of approval to restoration of East Devon folly

our legacy for the future


English Heritage gives stamp of approval to restoration of East Devon folly

The restoration of an historic East Devon tower folly to its former glory has been recognised by English Heritage.

Clinton Devon Estates has been praised for its “time, effort and determination” in restoring the 19th Century China Tower – a Grade II listed building, near Bicton College.

Restoration of the castellated building with its four floors and separate stair turret began in 2012.  As well as a sitting room, two bedrooms, a fitted kitchen and shower room, the folly now has electricity, water and heating for the first time in its history. The China Tower was originally built as a surprise birthday present for the 1st Baron Rolle in 1839 by his wife Lady Louisa but fell into disrepair, having stood empty for many years.

In his commendation, Greg Luton, the Director of the Heritage at Risk Programme said: “The future of England’s Heritage depends very much on local endeavours such as yours to save buildings and places which have a special meaning for the community and which tell us so much about the past, and are our legacy for the future.”

Jonathan Rhind, the conservation architect behind the restoration design said: “Our task was to retain the eccentric features of this octagonal tower while making it comfortable for holiday visitors. The biggest challenges were installing a modern bathroom in a very small space and also finding builders willing to work on a tower with only one narrow staircase.” He added: “It is always rewarding to breathe new life into an old building – particularly one with such a romantic history.”

Clinton Devon Estates worked closely with the Landmark Trust, to design and plan the future of the China Tower which is now leased, through them, as a popular holiday venue.

Katherine Oakes from the Landmark Trust: “This extraordinary building has become one of our most popular places to stay and is already fully booked for the next six months. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Clinton Devon Estates to give this historic building a new use and future.”

Handing over something more valuable than we have today,

– Estates ethos

…and the Lord Clinton was, by the whole Council, brought to the King’s presence, who after like thanks was given, was pleased that he should be made High Admiral of England and one of his Privy Council…

– Official record of appointment of 9th Baron Clinton as Lord High Admiral for life on 4th May 1550

to set out against the Scots, the King’s enemies and rebels

– Instructions given by Edward 1 to John de Clinton on 8th April 1298, prior to him leading the Royal army to victory at the Battle of Falkirk. As a direct result the Clinton Barony was formed on 22nd July 1299

We are trustees for life of the countryside

– 22nd Baron Clinton, 2002

But our power for good or evil in this world’s affairs in a countryside is enormous

– Robert Lipscomb, Steward 1865 – 1892