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CLAVELL TOWER,     also known as Clavell Folly, and the Kimmeridge Tower,
The Tower (from south-east)
rises some 35 feet above what is known as Hen Cliff. The cliff rises about 330 feet above the sea.

  The main tower is constructed mainly from mortared selected stone, with the windows per storey formed from brick, all of that being rendered, much of it has fallen away. This would be a relatively modest construction compared with the ground floor Tuscan colonnade and the roof's pierced parapet both in stone. It does seem rather a surprise that stucco/render was matched to stone on such a small construction, where the whole building could have been stone.
  There are three floors, a ground floor, wooden first, and second floors, surmounting a shallow basement. There is some evidence of fireplaces, which might suggest the intention of all year occupancy, but access to the first and second floors would have been by ladder. That aside the tower is basic.

  The tower is part of the Smedmore estate and was built about 1831 according to estate archives, by the Reverend John Richards who had changed his name to Clavell after inheriting the estate in 1817, or as a ploy to inherit the estate.

  Thomas Hardy is believed to have courted a ladyfriend by the name of Eliza Nicholls around the tower, and also used it to illustrate his Wessex Poems. P D James drew from it inspiration for "The Black Tower".

  A question that is always asked:- What is the Clavell Tower ? There are a number of possibilities and suggestions.

  1. A summerhouse - very nice, has got some heating/fireplaces for the chilly nights, but the lack of staircase rules that out. Perhaps a bit small for a summer house, not too convenient for the main house/Smedmore.
  2. An observatory - the builder was an amateur astronomer, but the windows don't give much scope for observation. Sitting on the roof is not much closer the heavens than sitting on the ground.
  3. A watchtower - that does carry some weight, but watching specifically for what ? There is local knowledge that the revenue men after smugglers used it, as have the coastguard service. It may well have been used during WWII. The revenue men were the only watchful people around at the time of building, but they were unlikely to have subsidised it, and it is too sophisticated for their needs and they needed to watch discreetly.
  4. A folly - this has the greatest credence in our books, it is relatively simple, not easy to live in, but we think pleasant to look at when it was built.

Tower & cliff (from south)
  The tower you see is derelict, it was nearly burnt down in the 1930s, the heat of the fire may well of advanced the ravages of age and the effects of the weather. There is evidence of fires being lit in what is the basement, perhaps not with malicious intention, but somebody's short sighted amusement. Not the best place to be sitting round a fire with a few cans of beer.
  The geology under the tower is pretty mixed, a lot of it Kimmeridge clay. Deterioration is fast and the tower is significantly closer the edge, or rather the edge is closer the tower every year, every prediction is that one day, probably soon it will fall down, or fall off the edge. The bottom line is we can't examine the strata just presume from what we see on the cliff face, we can't safely test the foundations, we can't safely test the structure, so it's sooner than later prediction seems a fair one. The cliffs ability to resist the weight of the tower will cease.

  It seems so sad that such a monument should be destined to become part of the sea bed. There have been rescue plans suggested, like dismantling the tower and re-siting it, or lifting it as one and also re-siting. The latter will require some heavy machinery and may become the straw that breaks the camel's back. The lesser has some credibility but will means subjecting the cliff to additional load for reasons of safety, but might have the same consequence.
  We think the only scenario is to let it slip quietly away.

Full panorama
  Rescue plans of course do require funding and there are a number of funds afoot, one of the funding exercises suggests that the cost could be offset against income from its use as a holiday-let. The building is Grade-II listed.

  As at September 2006, The Landmark Trust had secured 900,000 to pay for the year+ operation to dismantle and move the tower back 80 feet, and work was now beginning. Their intention after the move is to let it out in the hope they will recover monies for ongoing maintenance.
Tower (from north-west) Nov 2006
It will be interesting to see how the non-paying public will be kept away from paying guests.  
Tower (from south-east) Feb 2008
The tower, albeit still clad in scaffold and
still awaiting it's render finish and other
minor works, was topped out on the
25th February 2008
  The Landmark Trust, who is actually the leaseholder, have an opening planned for the 29th August 2008. It is intended to let the Tower out as a means to finance it and bookings are being taken for next spring (2009).
  To make it fully functional accommodation the basement is the bathroom, on the ground floor the kitchen, then the bedroom on the first floor, with a sitting room at the top. This allows for two people.  

For prices and booking details go to The Landmark Trust
  For the pub-quiz enthusiasts, there are reputedly 16.272 stones in it's construction.
Tower (from north) Sept 2008

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