Pagoda, Kew Gardens, London

Pagoda, Kew Gardens
Postmarked 1906
Publisher: Millar & Lang, Glasgow

Google Street View.

Kew’s Pagoda was completed in 1762 as a gift for Princess Augusta, the founder of the Gardens. It was one of several Chinese buildings designed for Kew by Sir William Chambers, who had spent time travelling and studying the architecture of East Asia. A popular ‘folly’ of the age, it offered one of the earliest and finest bird’s eye views of London
Royal Botatanic Gardens, Kew

The Great Pagoda was completed in only six months. The speed of completion and the quality of construction were points of pride for Chambers; “the walls of the building are composed of very hard bricks…neatly laid, and with such care, that there is not the least crack or fracture in the whole structure, notwithstanding its great height, and the expedition with which it was built”. 80 gilded dragons decorated the roofs of its ten storeys although these had been removed by 1784. The height of the building impressed contemporaries; in 1762, Horace Walpole wrote to a friend, “the Pagoda at Kew begins to rise above the trees and soon you will see it from Yorkshire”.

At the time of its construction it was considered so unusual that people were unconvinced it would remain standing. Chambers studied oriental architecture in China, but when he designed Kew’s pagoda he ignored the rules. Pagodas should have an odd number of floors, traditionally seven (rather than ten), believed to represent seven steps to heaven. The Great Pagoda was the most accurate reconstruction of a Chinese building in Europe at the time. It was originally flanked by a Moorish Alhambra and a Turkish Mosque, follies that were all the rage in the great gardens of the time.
Wordl Heritage Journeys

The dragons are back at Kew after more than two centuries, tails curled, wings neatly furled to make them less of a wind catcher, gazing down with glittering eyes on the acres of gardens and thousands of visitors far below. . . . Legends insisted they were made of gem-studded enamelled bronze or even solid gold, and that they were stripped off the pagoda to settle the Prince of Wales’s gambling debts, or to decorate his extraordinary oriental-styled in Brighton. The truth was more boring. Chambers took them off when he restored the building in 1784, because although they looked magnificent, they were made of cheap pine and after a spell of atrocious weather – the Thames froze over in 1783 – they were rotten.

Their replacements, blazing in green, blue, red and gold, guard a secret. The eight at ground level were hand carved from cedar wood, but the 72 dragons on the higher floors were produced on a 3D printer. “The biggest engineering problem we had was attaching the dragons to the roofs,” Putnam said. “They didn’t worry much about health and safety in the 18th century, but the biggest of the printed ones weigh less than 10 kilos, and the wooden ones weigh a quarter tonne – to make them all in wood we’d have had to punch the original structure through and through with steel-reinforcing rods to hold them.”
The Guardian

Kingsgate Castle, Broadstairs, Kent,

Kingsgate Castle | Portcullis
Publisher: G. E.Houghton Ltd, Architectural Photographers, Margate

Google Street View (approximate).

Kingsgate Castle on the cliffs above Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs, Kent, was built for Lord Holland (Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland) in the 1760s as the stable block of his nearby country residence Holland House. His main residence was Holland House in Kensington, near London. The name Kingsgate is related to an incidental landing of Charles II on 30 June 1683 (‘gate’ referring to a cliff gap) though other English monarchs have also used this cove, such as George II in 1748. The building was later the residence of John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury.

Kingsgate Castle after having been several times tenanted by Royalty, became the home of the late Lord Avebury, better known as Sir John Lubbock, the naturalist. Since then it has been converted into a hotel.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 January 1934

Henry Fox, more latterly Lord Holland, had been villified for reputedly milking the public purse while Paymaster General during the American wars of independence. Some £50 million was estimated to have passed through his hands, much of which it was said remained in his own pocket and was used to build his sumptuous homes – including his Kingsgate residence where he intended to retire. . . .Designed by the amateur architect Sir Thomas Wynne and with the works partially overseen by John Luke Nicholl, a permanent official at the Pay Office where Fox had been in charge, Kingsgate – as it was now generally known – clearly held a special place in the heart of the elderly peer. For almost immediately he set about adorning the then sumptuous estate with statues and other artifacts specially imported from Italy and which were landed directly at his private bay below. Giant lions, saluting guns and other visual attractions were there to greet the visitor, while dotted along the adjoining coastline were a series of flint ‘conceits’ – follies, including the Gothic ruin that was later to become Kingsgate Castle. . . . Presumably to show off the estate to others who had not yet visited, Fox also commissioned two celebrated engravers James Basire and BT Pouncy to produce around a dozen etchings of Kingsgate and its surroundings, which at that time spanned hundreds of acres, stretching as far as and including Quex Park. From these series of views, made around 1768 onwards, we can still appreciate the full splendour of Fox’s seaside haunt, with the etchings often revealing the original contours of what was eventually to become Kingsgate Castle, but at the time was simply an imitation of a medieval castle from Edward I’s reign. The castle, standing directly opposite the main Holland House residence, was clearly the centrepiece of Fox’s assembly of Gothic edifaces.
Secrets of Kingsgate Castle

Sham Castle, Bath, Somersetshire

Sham Castle – Bath
Publisher: Valentine

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The perfectly named stone edifice was originally built to improve the view from a wealthy postmaster’s nearby estate. The towering wall was erected in 1762 using stones from some quarries located in nearby Bath that the postmaster had also purchased, allowing the fake castle to pull double duty as an advertisement for the quality of the local rock as well. While it is called a “castle,” the facade is simply a single wall with ornate windows and iconically medieval towers on the front side. The back side of the wall is almost hilariously blank as the sham was clearly only built to be seen from one side.
Atlas Obscura