The Sunken Folly

There are a few locations in the UK that hold a certain status, something akin to hallowed ground. This location is one such place, partly because it is unique to the British Isles and partly because of the lengths you had to go to, to see it. Somewhere in the South of the UK is an estate that dates back to Victorian times, it features several large lakes situated at different levels with cascades that feed down into the next lake. These lakes were dug out over several years by over a hundred workers, before being flooded with water. Before the lower and largest lake was flooded, the owner and creator of the estate had a cast iron and concrete structure built on the lake bed, with a glazed dome and two access tunnels. One tunnel led to a spiral staircase on the lake edge and at the other end a staircase climbs to emerge onto a man made concrete and stone island in the middle of the lake. The dome is affectionately known as The Underwater Ballroom, but was actually never used for dancing. Instead acquaintances and business associates of the owner were taken down into this subterranean wonderland to play billiards beneath the coy carp swimming lazily above their heads.

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I made two trips here, one at the end of summer in 2013 and then again around the same time in 2014. The first occasion I did not get to see it but got some lovely shots of the mist covered lake at dawn. The second time I was in luck and got to scratch an itch that had been bothering me for two years.

As pictures from various peoples trips started appearing online, the word went out that the location was accessible and the numbers of covert visitors went through the roof. This location lies on land that is privately owned with the owner now having moved into a house that overlooks the main lake. Some mornings saw high numbers of unwanted visitors trying get into the folly and certainly not trying to be careful or quiet about it. The owner was less than happy with this and reached out to several people within the community to ask people to stop coming. The folly, for many photographers, has a magnetic pull due to the unqiue nature of its environment and certainly for some there's an element of it being a challenge to be conquered. Shortly after my trip, person(s) unknown, forced an intricately carved iron door to a stunning stone pavillion causing criminal damage in the process. For me this is where what could be a quiet unobtrusive visit where people would not have even known you were there, becomes an unacceptable assault on someones personal property and a stunning bit of architectural heritage. There's just no need for it. The location has now been secured again.

It seems hypocritical that having been there twice, I would now be of the opinion that people should leave the place be.  With time to reflect and the fact that some go to these amazing places with an intent to see what they have gone to see, no matter what the cost to the location. With plenty of images circulating now of this place, maybe we should just enjoy them, that's what photography is for anyway.