The Three Towers at Quex

John Powell Powell (1769-1849), formally John Powell Roberts, inherited the Estate via his uncle John Powell and began the process of creating Quex Park as we know it today. He rebuilt Quex House between 1808 and 1813 and started the programme of tree planting which makes Quex the only area of Thanet to boast fully mature woodland. The Estate’s management policy continues to conserve and maintain this unique local landscape. Within Quex Park there are three unique towers which were built during the ownership of John Powell Powell.

The Round Tower

As a keen yachtsman & early member of the Yacht Club at Cowes, John Powell Powell commissioned the construction of this tower in 1814 for observation and Semaphore flag signalling.

The Round Tower stands over 40 ft tall with a wooden winding staircase, taking you up four floors to the flagpole at the top.

The Round Tower is associated with the story of the White Lady, the ghost of Quex.

Legend has it that she was 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.

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower, built circa 1830, sits atop the Coach House which is the home of the family chariot.

The quarter hour bells once served on John Powell Powell’s yachts. The hour bell was previously the tenor bell that hung in St Mildred’s Church in Canterbury.

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.

By 1844 Vulliamy was the Queen’s Clockmaker and 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.

The Waterloo Tower

The Waterloo Tower at Quex Park is a prominent local landmark built in 1819, purely for John Powell Powells love of campanology. The Tower was the first with 12 Bells to be built in Kent and one of the only 12 Bell Towers, not attached to a church, still in regular use in the UK.

The red bricks for the building came from the Faversham brickfields and the original twelve bells were cast in 1818/1819 by Thomas Mears of Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

The tenor bell is inscribed “This peal of bells was cast for John Powell Powell of Quex House, Isle of Thanet, by Thos. Mears of Whitechapel, London, for the amusement of himself and his friends”.

On the 4th August 1819, The Waterloo Tower was officially opened with a ceremonial celebration and the first recorded peal was rung by the Royal Cumberland Society.

The cast iron spire was added in 1820 a year after the building was completed. The remarkable structure was put together rather like a giant ‘meccano’ set – small cross pieces hold the sides of the legs together. A considerable achievement as it was built long before the days of electricity and cranes.

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.

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, Matilda Christina, 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.

On Sunday 4th August 2019 the Royal Cumberland Society returned for the 200th anniversary of the first 12 bell peal at the Tower in 1819.