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The Guardian: Book Review: Beer, Betjeman and bread

The Follies Journal, number 5 (£12; www.follies.org.uk)

The Follies Journal is an annual publication from the Follies Fellowship, a charity founded in 1988 “to preserve and promote the enjoyment and awareness of follies, grottoes and garden buildings” and “to protect lonely and unloved building of little purpose.”

This number is dominated by a lengthy article on Shell’s Visit British Landmarks advertising campaign of 1936-37, which featured artwork by Graham Sutherland and E McKnight Kauffer and was dreamt up by Shell’s publicity manager Jack Beddington and John Betjeman, then a copywriter for the company.

They seem to have been inspired by Betjeman’s friend and near-neighbour, the artist, writer, composer and complete eccentric Lord Berners. Berners, who installed a clavichord in the back of his Rolls-Royce and was given to dyeing doves unnatural hues, had overcome fierce local opposition to have a tower with a “Gothic top-not” built at Farringdon, his Berkshire seat in 1935.

Berners himself went on to paint the structure for Shell, and both he and his folly subsequently appeared, thinly disguised, in Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit of Love.
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