Old John - Close Up looking from the direction of the old Stables


Old John is the name of the highest hill in Bradgate ParkLeicestershireEngland on the southern edge of Charnwood Forest. It gives its name to the folly that stands at its top. It stands at 212 metres (696 ft) high, and is a prominant landmark across Leicester and Leicestershire.

Old John Tower

The earliest recorded use of the name is on a map of 1754, which records a windmill on the site, some 30 years before the tower was built.[1] The tower itself began life as a ruined folly, built in 1784, during the time of George Grey, 5th Earl of Stamford. He got Thomas Sketchley of Anstey to build him the mock ruin, which had strong similarities to Mow Cop, Staffordshire.[1] It was adapted in the mid-19th century by the seventh Earl to serve as an observation tower for the practice circuit he laid out for his horses, along with the building of a stable block lower down the hill.[1] It is well known for its "mug-shape" — there was a longer section of wall adjoining the tower after the 19th century extension but this reduced in size over the years leaving the present 'handle' shape.[1] The mug shape has given rise to false accounts of the tower's origins supposedly relating to a beer-loving miller who was killed after being hit by a pole during a bonfire.[1]

In the past it has also been used as a meeting place for hunters with their fox hounds, and a luncheon house for shooting parties in the park, prior to the park being donated for public use in 1928.[2] Internally, the tower retains a number of 19th century fittings, including timber floors, slate fireplaces, shuttered windows and a castellated roof. The tower is a grade II listed building. A narrow spiral staircase gives access to the upper floor, and is open to visitors on the park's guided walk programmes.