The image above was taken last weekend and even though the sky is the dominating factor in this image, Paxton’s Tower is still easily recognisable in the skyline at the bottom. Many that have driven down the Tywi valley between Llandeilo and Carmarthen will have noticed the lonely tower above Llanarthney. It is an iconic building that can be seen for miles and has been visited by many.
Like many places I have visited over the years it was another I knew very little about, so some research was needed to to feed my brain and add some emotional content to my images.
Paxton’s Tower is is a 36 foot high Neo-Gothic folly erected in honour of Lord Nelson, believed to be built between 1805 and 1808 probably to a design by Samuel Pepys Cockerell. Unlike traditional buildings in the area it is a triangular building, two storeys high, with a hexagonal castellated roof. On the ground there are three arches to accommodate carriages. On the next storey there is a banqueting room and on the upper storey a prospect room, with an upper apartment with stained glass windows.
Legend says that Sir William Paxton (1745-1824), a Scottish-born, but London-raised merchant and banker built the tower to prove to the voters that Paxton had not been ruined by the expenditure during the 1802 election campaign. Paxton spent thousands of pounds trying to get elected to Parliament in 1802 only to be defeated by 45 votes. He built the tower instead of the bridge across the river Tywi that had been his election promise. A more likely explanation, is that the tower was built in the spirit of the times, as a place to wine and dine his guests and take in the stunning panoramic views from this spot.
There would have originally been a carriage drive leading to the tower. In some old images I found, the driveway seemed to spiral around the tower until reaching the arches. I can only imagine what it would have been like banqueting in the upper floors looking out onto the spectacular Tywi valley.