The Tener Family

This is a journal kept by Dennis Holmes and friends concerning the Tener Family.
The links below will take you to the "Tener Blue Book" - "TENER: A History of the Family in France, Ireland and America"; and to a Finding Aid.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Sir Giles Eyre's "PEPPERBOX"

I located a web site that addressed unusual buildings in England - "Follies & Monuments". I did not know at that time what a 'follie' was in the English sense, but since it had a structure related to 'Brickworth' I had to pursue this. In an unabridged dictionary located on-line, there is a definition that 'fits' the British usage of the term in the sense I located it, ..."the result of foolish action or enterprise." And, this definition is followed by a quote by TRENT, "It is called this man's or that man's "folly,'' and name of the foolish builder is thus kept alive for long after years."

This is especially true in the context of the Eyre Folly which will be discussed below - but first the "Pepperbox"! (a photo appears at )

My on line research led me to discover the existence of a follie not far from the previously mentioned 'Brickworth" - the home of the Eyre family is Wiltshire, near Whiteparish, for almost - if not more than - 200 years: Brickworth had been destroyed by fire once and rebuilt, and it still stands today.

About five miles south east of Salisbury, just north of Brickworth, along the roadway A36, there is a small sign directing one to turn off the roadway onto a very narrow dirt road, barely wider than a mere path.

After navigating a short bumpy distance, you are directed to the right, through a copse of trees into a tiny parking lot with a sign warning you to lock your car because the area is frequented by thieves!

Once parked there is a path leading to a memorial marker, on grounds of a National Trust recreational area, which describes the "Pepperbox" - a structure reportedly built around 1606 by Giles Eyre.

The tower is about three stories tall, six-sided (hexagonal in shape), and built of brick. It has a pyramid roof with weather vane mounted at the apex. There was no way in to the structure when we visited it - all of the old entrances (if indeed there were more than one) were filled in with brick and mortor. Some, perhaps most, of the windows were also sealed by brick.

One web site suggests that it was built, without benefit of a permit, nor permission?, so Sir Giles Eyre could look down upon and watch his neighbors. In a Wiltshire County Council web site - - it is reported that the tower may have been used by the ladies in order for them to "follow the progress of the hunt."

When we visited the property, we noticed that it does have a commanding view towards Salisbury - even with the subsequent tree growth you could still see the tall spire of the Salisbury Cathedral. The folks who also frequented there were quite friendly. It seems to be quite the popular place to unleash and run one's dogs! One chap engaged us in conversation - and catching our U.S. accents inquired about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And they also had another 'read' on the reason for the Pepperbox. One fellow told us that a third rationale for the tower, was that the Eyre's would have a servant go to the tower to keep an eye out for them when they were scheduled to be returning from the city of Salisbury. Then, when the Eyre's were spotted - the servant would rush on to Brickworth and have the house prepared for their arrival!

On an 1811 map of the area the Pepperbox is listed as "Eyre's Summer House".

Perhaps no one will know for certain - but there does seem to be a lot of speculation as to 'why' he built it.

I was amused at the sign posted to be alert for thieves - photo above. And then, reading further on the Wiltshire County Council web site - they remark "...In the late 18th and early 19th century it was a haunt of highwaymen, who waited there to rob coaches after they had climbed the hill and the horses were tired." And finally, "In the Second World War it was used as a lookout post for the local Home Guard."