Freston Tower is a six-storey Tudor folly that looks out over the River Orwell, perhaps built to coincide with Elizabeth I’s visit to Ipswich in August 1579. There is a single room on each floor with the sitting room at the top to take advantage of the unrivalled views.
26 windows through which to enjoy the view
Freston Tower was always intended to be an eye-catcher and it certainly is a striking Landmark. Set in old and undulating parkland of oaks, sweet chestnuts, cedar and beech trees, Freston Tower was built in 1578/9 overlooking the broad expanse of the River Orwell estuary. We have yet to discover why or who built it, but its most likely builder was a wealthy Ipswich merchant called Thomas Gooding who bought Freston Manor in 1553. Freston Tower was built both to admire from the outside and to look out from on the inside – there are no fewer than 26 windows dotted over its six storeys, arranged in careful hierarchy. Its crisp brickwork with distinctive blue diapering suggests that it was always intended to perform as an eye-catcher in the landscape. It may also have acted as a lookout tower for Gooding’s returning ships, or simply as an extravagant folly (and if so, one of the earliest in the country). It may even have been built to coincide with Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ipswich in 1579.
Kindly given to the Landmark Trust
Freston Tower was given to Landmark through the great generosity of its owner, who wished it to have a secure future and be enjoyed by many. Just as with the building of this carefully designed tower, the restoration demanded the highest standards of craftsmanship. Using early photographs as sources we re-rendered the brick mullions and window surrounds in imitation of stone, a building material so lacking in East Anglia. We chose to put the sitting-room on the top floor, to take advantage of unrivalled views of the River Orwell and its handsome modern bridge. Did Sir Thomas Gooding go one stage further, as our visitors may and sit on the roof amid the pinnacles? We cannot be sure of this either, but it would certainly be in keeping with the bravura of this fine tower.