Folly, Grottoes and Hermitages, West Yorkshire

Happy 65th anniversary ‘Follies and Grottoes’

A great stumbling block in the understanding of follies is the attempt to define what exactly one is. Must it be useless? Wildly expensive? Weird? One of my favourite summaries comes from Barbara Jones, the first person to study the genre in depth in Follies and Grottoes, published by Constable 65 years ago today 

She wrote that a folly ‘is built for pleasure, and pleasure is personal, difficult to define.’

Towers, West Yorkshire

The Ruin, Bingley, West Yorkshire

‘The fast lock’d tower where ivy loves to creep,
Seems like the remains of some old Castle Keep’

So wrote the little-known Yorkshire poet Robert Carrick Wildon, in contemplative mood, at The Ruin in around 1850. His poem ‘Lines suggested while sitting at the Ruins’ was recently discovered and you can read it all here http://www.friendsofstives.org.uk/history/the_ruins.php

The Ruin, as it is called on the earliest OS maps, was built by Benjamin Ferrand and is inscribed with his initials and the year 1796. Also known as Ferrand’s Folly, or Harden Grange Folly, there is no explanation for why it later became known as St David’s Ruin. 

Folly, Monument, Temples, West Yorkshire

The Monument, Whitley Beaumont, West Yorkshire

The Monument c.1900

Capability Brown drew up a plan for the landscape at Whitley Beaumont which was implemented by Richard Beaumont in the 1780s. The Monument was probably built as an eye-catcher from a new carriage drive, and existed by 1822 when it is shown on an estate map, but not named. It is marked as ‘The Monument’ on the 1850s ordnance survey map but no-one remembers why it was given this name, or what it might be a monument to.

Built of fragments of masonry, probably rescued from a remodelling of the hall, and embellished with battered statuary, this is a fabulous folly and was surely designed by the family themselves. It’s unlikely an eminent architect would wish to take the credit.

The monument fell into disrepair during the two world wars when the park was used for army training and mined for coal as part of the war effort. Today the fragments survive as a forlorn and overgrown pile of stones.

The park at Whitley Beaumont is strictly private.

Folly, West Yorkshire

The Folly Flâneuse at The Print Project

First of the 4 runs through the press

The Folly Flâneuse recently enjoyed a great day at The Print Project in Shipley, West Yorkshire, learning all about letterpress printing. Owner Nick was patient, erudite and entertaining; chatting about the history of print as we worked on the practical stuff. So many common phrases come from the world of printing, he explained, so I was grateful not to be ‘out of sorts’ and was careful to ‘mind my Ps and Qs’. I know I ‘made an impression’ as here it is above. In fact I made a hundred impressions and it was hard work.