White Nancy - Atlas Obscura

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White Nancy

Bollington, England

A strange Georgian folly sits atop a lonely hill. 


Just outside the pretty Cheshire village of Bollington, you can hike up to the top of the nearby Kerridge Hill. At the summit, visitors are met by a bizarre structure that seems out of kilter with its rural surroundings. This is the White Nancy, a 200-year-old Georgian folly.

The Nancy is an 18-foot-tall white cone, topped with a simple black finial. The folly was made from sandstone rubble, which was later rendered and painted white. The local Gaskell family built the structure in 1817 to commemorate the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo. It acted as a functional summer house for a good few years, and visitors could sit inside, perhaps to take afternoon tea.

The original White Nancy, it’s said, was the inexhaustible horse that transported the materials used to build this weird edifice up the steep approach.

The elevated location was used as an ordnance survey point during early detailed mapping of England, so maybe the Nancy played its part in helping to understand the U.K.’s unique topography. When visitors behold the magnificent views of the Cheshire Plain from the ridge, it’s obvious why.

You can survey Bollington, the nearby town of around 8,000 people. Further along the ridge, you look down on the smaller village of Rainow. Look further to the vast horizon and see the larger conurbations of Macclesfield, Stockport, and Manchester.

Visitors can take in a significant chunk of northern England at the White Nancy. Paved compass points surrounding the monument help you understand what you’re looking at in the distance.

On unique occasions, the Nancy is decorated to match the public mood. These include Jubilee crowns, Olympic rings, and Remembrance poppies. In 2017, Bollington’s Mayor commissioned a Manchester Bee mural to show the town’s support following the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena. 

While the White Nancy isn’t hugely impressive, it’s worth visiting. From there, it’s an enjoyable walk along Kerridge Ridge, and, if the weather’s good, you might enjoy a picnic. Overall, it’s a pleasant way to spend a few hours looking at an architectural anomaly because, as Edmund Hilary said of Everest: ‘it’s there’.

Know Before You Go

As mentioned, it's a challenging climb to the Nancy, so wear good shoes and take a drink to quench your thirst after your heart-pumping climb up Kerridge Hill.

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October 27, 2023

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