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The dictionary definition of the word folly is “a building to satisfy a fancy or conceit”, an architectural point of interest in the grounds of a property that provides an area to stroll around or sit for a while.

Occasionally the folly within an estate becomes the story itself, when it is given a change of use and turned into a house, but mostly they remain talking points, small pieces of madness in an otherwise ordered world. Here are the best houses around the world offering a modern take on the traditional idea of a folly.


Arc En Ciel, St Lucia, $10m

Where: On the Beau Estate, in the sleepy village of Soufrière, between the World Heritage site of the two Pitons above the eastern Caribbean sea. St Lucia Hewanorra International airport has flights to and from Europe and the US.

What: Designed by architect Lane Pettigrew, who is also responsible for the interiors and handmade furniture from Honduras. The property has many traditional Caribbean elements such as verandas, jalousie shutters and wooden railings. The house has five double bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, a swimming pool and a sun deck in an enclosed garden area. The property is arranged as a series of pavilions connected with walkways.

Why: The folly overlooks the Petit Piton and is designed as a gazebo with views over the Pitons and the sea. Underneath the gazebo is a cave with a waterfall. Near the village of Soufrière is St Lucia’s very own drive-in volcano.

Who: Savills, www.savills.com/abroad, tel: +44 (0)20 7016 3740


Torre La Palombara, Umbria, Italy, £1.3m

Where: Ten minutes by car from the town of Narni, in southern Umbria, Italy, with access to the A1 motorway. Rome and its international airport is an hour’s drive.

What: A 15th-century watchtower, restored and extended to make a four bedroom-, three bathroom-house with a swimming pool and two wells for irrigation. There are landscaped gardens and an orchard with 40 fruit trees as well as 30 olive trees, three hectares with unspoilt views, and a 50-hectare organic farm which is also for sale.

Why: The sitting room has a large antique Peperino stone fireplace, cross-vaulted ceilings and a flight of wood and iron stairs to a reading room at the top of the tower.

Who: Savills, www.savills.com/abroad, tel: +44 (0)20 7016 3740


Creek House, Beach Cabanas, Old Fort Bay, Bahamas, $17m

Where: On New Providence Island, just east of Lyford Cay. The nearest airport is Nassau International Airport.

What: A main house, built in 2001, with eight bedrooms, a swimming pool and hot tub, and two separate guest houses, one with four bedrooms, another with three. There is also a 1,000 sq ft apartment for staff.

Why: The property has 150ft of ocean front, 300 sq ft of canal front and a dock. There is a folly of a beach cabana with a thatched roof.

Who: Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty, www.sirbahamas.com, tel: +1 242 322 2305


Royds Hall, Low Moor, Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK, £2m

Where: South of Bradford, a short distance from the M62 with access to Leeds. Ten miles from Leeds/Bradford international airport.

What: An 800-year-old grade II-listed medieval hall with outbuildings and views over 20 acres of grounds. It offers equestrian facilities and 16 acres of paddock and grazing land. There are six bedrooms in the main house, four of which are en suite.

Why: A Victorian folly was built in red brick and rusticated stonework with views over the formal front garden and the grazing land.

Who: Carter Jonas, www.carterjonas.co.uk, tel: +44 (0)1484 842105


49 Rancho Escondido, Santa Fe, New Mexico, US, $13.5m

Where: Minutes from downtown Santa Fe, surrounded by the hills of Tesuque, with views over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Santa Fe is served by Santa Fe Municipal airport and Albuquerque Sunport airport, with connections to the international airports in Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.

What: A large estate over 11 acres, with a main house, casita (small house) and swimming pool, equestrian facilities and outdoor fireplaces and water features. There are four bedrooms and seven bathrooms in the main house, and three bedrooms and three bathrooms in the guest house. The master suite has its own private garden area with a hot tub.

Why: The property is ideal for outdoor entertaining. The seating area in the folly is backlit to show off mountain views.

Who: Sotheby’s International Realty, www.sothebyshomes.com/santafe, tel +1 (505) 988 2533

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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