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.
‘What did Delaware?’, asks the old song. Well until January 2020 one part of the state casts off its brand new jersey and dons some brand new follies. Winterthur, near Wilmington, DA., is home to a gallery, museum and library set within 60 acres of garden and surrounded by a further 1,000 acres of park. Winterthur’s founder, Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969), designed the garden with the architect Marian Coffin, an old friend from childhood. From around 1920 he embellished the estate with garden buildings relocated from nearby estates that were under threat, as well as creating his own follies from recycled architectural fragments.
This gothic fragment can be found in the public park surrounding Clitheroe Castle in Lancashire. It was given to the town by Captain Sir William Brass, the local MP, to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937. The pinnacle was rescued from the masons’ yard after it was removed as part of the extensive repairs to the stonework of the Houses of Parliament begun in the 1930s. The ladies bowling team selflessly allowed their green to be converted into a rose garden to surround the pinnacle.
Dated 1792 the temple in the park of Swinithwaite Hall was built as a banqueting house and belvedere to enjoy ‘the most strikingly beautiful and picturesque scenery of the valley and the whole range of its western mountains’. The valley in question is that of the river Ure, and the most dramatic feature of the vista was the ‘grand and majestic falls […] over the rocks of Aysgarth’, a view that is still partially intact today. The temple was a short ride away from the hall and set within its own miniature pleasure ground with ‘ornamental timber and shrubberies.’ A panel above the door shows a talbot, a breed of dog associated with hunting, suggesting that the temple may also have been used as a grandstand for watching the chase in the valley below.
A recent revelation on a private estate in South Yorkshire. Whilst wandering the grounds with the owner she mentioned it only as an aside: “I don’t suppose you are interested in the hermit’s cave?”. Not even the torrential April rain could dampen my spirits, although photos had to wait for more congenial weather. No history has been found to date, and it’s not even on O.S. maps, but appetites have been whetted…
The National Trust has applied for Listed Building Consent to place two replica busts in the Temple of Piety at Studley Royal.
Construction of the temple overlooking the Moon Ponds took place in the 1730s, probably under the direction of the stonemason John Doe. The architect is not known although the building is identical to a Palladio drawing of the (long since destroyed) Temple of Piety in Rome. This sketch was once owned by Lord Burlington, a friend of John Aislabie who owned Studley.
Barbara Jones, the first person to write a comprehensive account of follies in Britain, saw this building and was underwhelmed. In the 1953 first edition of Follies & Grottoes she described it as ‘gutted’ and full of pigeon’s nests, and concluded that ‘no amount of bird life can divest this folly of its ordinariness’. If only she had seen it in its prime; a sketch by the itinerant artist and drawing master J.C. Nattes dated 1807 shows an enchanting little building.
Beaverbrook is a sumptuous country house hotel close to Dorking in Surrey. It was formerly the home of Lord Beaverbrook, the press baron, who found it by accident, and snapped it up, whilst out motoring with Rudyard Kipling in 1911. His house guests at Cherkley Court, as it then was, included luminaries from politics, the arts and show business. Winston Churchill dictated letters from his bath, Jean Cocteau painted a glass panel that remains above a door and Elizabeth Taylor provided Hollywood glamour.