The Cotswolds in England are well known for the many architectural follies that adorn the green, rolling hills, one of the most famous of which is known as the Broadway Tower near Broadway. The Broadway Tower is located on Broadway Hill right next to the village by the same name in the county of Worcestershire. It is the second highest point in the region following Cleeve Hill, which is located in Gloucestershire. Broadway Hill peaks at more than 1000 feet above sea level. The tower stands an additional 55 feet and makes quite a dramatic shape against the skyline.
The tower looks like a medieval castle, albeit a very vertical one. It was designed by James Wyatt in 1794 as a gift to Lady Coventry, and constructed five years later in 1799. Lady Coventry’s house was located in Worcester, 22 miles away. She wondered whether a beacon positioned on Broadway Hill would be visible from her home; the Broadway Tower was built to test the theory. Years later, the tower was used by Sir Thomas Phillips, who had a printing press there, and by the artists William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, who retreated there in the late 19th century. It also served as an observation post during two important wars in the 20th century.
Nobody lives in Broadway Tower today, but it is open to the public and is among the most well-known tourist destinations in the Cotswolds. The building itself is a beautiful piece of architecture. The suddenness of its shape against the skyline makes for a surrealistic sight; it stands in contrast to the flatness of its surroundings (even though it is placed on a hill, there are not many trees around it, and the hills still give an impression of the horizontal, so the verticality of the tower is somewhat striking). The country park immediately surrounding the tower consists of lovely green land which blooms with flowers during the spring. You may see some deer grazing around the fields while you’re touring the surroundings. There are many opportunities to take beautiful photographs of the imposing building and the idyllic loveliness of the park land around it.
The tower also hosts exhibitions and a gift shop. While you’re climbing to the top of the tower, you can pause and look at artworks by William Morris and learn more about the historic Arts and Crafts movement and how the Tower was involved with the artists who fronted that movement. There’s another exhibit where you can learn about how the tower was used during World War II and the Cold War by the Royal Observer Corps.
While you’re visiting the Broadway Tower, you can stay at a historic bed and breakfast at the nearby town of Broadway. This town boasts some lovely medieval architecture, and is also the site of the Gordon Russell Museum, Heritage Railway, and many beautiful homes and gardens. It is one of the best-known towns in the Cotswolds and is a destination in its own right.