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The Three Towers at Quex

The Three Towers at Quex

John Powell Powell (1769-1849) created Quex Park when he rebuilt Quex House between 1806 and 1813. He amalgamated the land of two farms - Quex Mansion House Farm and ‘Mr Tomlin’s Farm’ (the present day Quex Farmhouse was his dwelling) and moved the road that ran close to the house to the far end of the Front Meadow. 

John Powell Powell began the  programme of tree  planting which today makes Quex the only area of Thanet to boast fully mature woodlands. Chestnut, oak, beech, ash and coniferous trees  proliferate and the Estate’s  management policy continues to conserve and maintain this unique local landscape.

The Round Tower

The Round Tower was built in 1814 by John Powell Powell. Atop a platform on the roof, it once had a flagpole and mast for signalling ships. John Powell Powell was a fanatical yachtsman and an early member of the Yacht Club at Cowes, IOW (given the membership number 66 when he joined , he graduated to the number 18 by the time he resigned his membership  in around 1838). He bought his first yacht ‘Briton’ in 1820; she was 92 tons.

Each summer he voyaged around the English coast. In 1822 he travelled up the East coast, through the then very new Caledonian Canal and down the West coast. He subsequently owned two more yachts. His last, ‘Charlotte’ was built for him by James Rubie of Southampton and weighed 250 tons.

The Round Tower is associated with the story of the White Lady, the ghost of Quex. She is said to have been the wife of an ancient British warrior buried beneath the mound on which the tower is built. The trees alongside the roadway are where she is reported to be seen. Years ago a woodland footpath through the area was known as White Lady’s Walk.

The Waterloo Tower

Originally, in 1819, the tower stood alone in the field, with just a low fence to keep out the sheep that grazed there. The red bricks for the building came from the Faversham brickfields. The cast iron spire was added a year or so after the building was completed; it was made by the Head Carpenter at Quex, together with a millwright and iron founder from Sandwich, named William Mackney.

It is a remarkable structure put together rather like a giant ‘meccano’ set - small cross pieces hold the sides of the legs together. While some pieces of the structure are relatively small, some are very large and one has to remember that this was built before the days of electrical power and tower cranes. Over the years the tower has become a prominent local landmark.

The four corner rooms at the base of the tower were originally ‘pavillions’ with two exit doors so that, if all the doors were opened, visitors could complete a circuit around the base of the tower through all the rooms. In 1896 one of the corner rooms was consecrated as a family mausoleum and the remains of Henry Horace Powell-Cotton were removed from the family vault at All Saints Church and brought here for reburial. In 1916 his widow was also buried here. Following the death of Major Percy Powell-Cotton in 1940, and his wife Hannah in 1964, their ashes were placed in the mausoleum. In time they have been joined by their children, the last of whom, Christopher, died in April 2006. This makes the Waterloo Tower very special as a place of family commemoration.

The Clock Tower

Above the coach house is the clock tower. The turret on the roof houses bells that sound the quarters and the hour. The quarter bells once served on John Powell Powell’s yachts. The hour bell was previously the tenor bell of a ring of five bells that hung in St Mildred’s Church in Canterbury. In the 1830s the churchwardens of St Mildred’s decided to demolish the church tower in order to increase the number of ’sittings’ in the church and the bells were sold.

John Powell Powell bought the bell for his hour bell and later declared it to be one of his heirlooms, castigating the parishioners of St Mildred’s “for selling such a beautiful bell”. The bell has a long inscription calling for mercy on the souls of Thomas Wood and Margaret his wife and is believed to have been cast by William Oldfield of Canterbury in 1536. Over the years this bell has sounded the hours across the estate and would have been the principal time piece of workers within earshot.

The turret clock in the tower is by Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy (1780-1854). The clock was installed in 1837 and is numbered Vulliamy London No 1344. B L Vulliamy was the third generation of his family to be a clock maker; his clocks were of high quality and expensive; the cost of the work at Quex was £356.

In 1844 Vulliamy, now the Queen’s  Clockmaker, was asked to submit plans to design and build the clock for the new building of the Houses of  Parliament, but after disagreements over the specification and organisation of the project, the contract was given to another clockmaker.

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