St Anne’s Park is a 270 acre public park that previously formed part of a 500 acre estate developed by the Guinness family. The estate originally consisted of a large mansion with landscaped and woodland gardens. The mansion was lost to a fire in 1943 but the follies and garden buildings, dating from 1838, have survived.
Twelve follies were built by the Guinness family.
A folly is a decorative garden building. Follies were built to resemble bridges, temples, towers and more and reflected the tastes of wealthy 19th century aristocrats returning from their Grand Tours of Europe. Visiting the ruins of the continent, Italy in particular, they desired to replicate the romantic settings upon their return home.
The first folly to be built was the Annie Lee Bridge, near the chestnut walk, which commemorated the birth of Benjamin Lee Guinness’s daughter in 1837. The rest followed during the 1850’s and 1860’s. Most of the follies follow the course of the Naniken River which runs through the park, the rest can be found along an oak-lined avenue.