Folly! at Fountains

folly leaflet

Folly! is the first of a three year programme that creatively brings the stories of Studley Royal to life, through the vision of some of the country’s most innovative artists and designers.

The original designers of the Studley Royal Water Garden, the Aislabie family, created many follies on this vast and beautiful estate to surprise and delight their eighteenth-century guests. These fashionable, whimsical buildings or structures were often used by garden designers to catch the eye or draw attention to a carefully created vista.

‘Folly!’ will see the temples and follies of this World Heritage Site garden dramatically re-imagined as places of visual trickery and untold histories.

Seek out the Octagon Tower, Temple of Fame, Banqueting House and Temple of Piety this summer and be amazed by installations created by twenty-first century artists in response to the opulent past of this unique place.”

folly map

I’ve written several times here about visits to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal – it’s one of my favourite places and easy to get to from home.

My first stop was at The Banqueting Hall. At weekends and during the school holidays the follies are open during the afternoon so I was able to go inside and see Gary McCann’s ‘Scavenger’ close to.


‘Scavenger’ by Gary McCann

Inside The Temple of Piety, which overlooks the Moon Ponds, is The Curious Tale of the Professor and The Temple created by Simon Costin, theatre and set designer. Supported by the jewellers Swarovski, the lavish display is purportedly based on the papers of a Professor Dennistoun of Ripon who died in 1959. He thought Fountains Abbey was the ‘Ancient place of worship now in ruins’ – a line from a prophecy of Old Mother Shipton from nearby Knaresbrough.


An ancient place of worship, now in ruin, One family shall come to dwell in. But lest the old un’s are kept entertained, No male heirs shall take the reins.

in tofp


Diana, the goddess of hunting


I don’t know why the goddess Flora is a teapot!

Next up was The Octagon Tower and a Hall of Mirrors by Irene Brown. It was impossible to take a picture inside so here’s a little video made by the Trust :

octagon tower

The Octagon Tower

Finally, ‘Lost Property’ also by Gary McCann is the Scavenger’s ‘nest’.

lost property

Within the smooth classical pillars of the Temple of Fame the invasion of the landscape continues. Intertwined within the artist’s creation is lost property. Collected from visitors, it provides sustenance to fantastical creatures which have taken up residence in spaces previously controlled by man

folly map cover

A marvellously magical and mysterious day out. I’m still mystified by what I saw!

The Leeds Library Summer Day Out in Whitby

whitby view

The weather on this year’s annual Leeds Library Visit to Whitby could not have been more different from last year’s The Lake District trip. The sun shone all day and the sky was blue as blue. Perfect weather for a day at the seaside. But first stop on our journey was in Pickering where after tea and toast in the Poppies Tearoom we visited the parish church of St Peter and St Paul where medieval wall paintings have been extensively restored. Originally discovered in 1851 they were almost immediately covered over again. In the 1870s they were restored and, as the leaflet tells us :

Nikolaus Pevsner, in his series of books The Buildings of England (1966), wrote that the church has “one of the most complete series of wall paintings in English churches, and they give one a vivid idea of what ecclesiastical interiors were really like”.

Pickering church

Pickering Church

George and dragon

St George and The Dragon Wall Painting

east window

The East Window

Our day out was  primarily to visit the Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society Library and Museum housed in a purpose built art gallery in Pannett Park above the town and with views of the Abbey opposite and the sea beyond.


The Society had been founded in 1823 by a group of Whitby citizens led by The Reverend George Young, a minister of the Presbyterian church. It’s chief object was to set up and maintain a museum specialising in fossils since “Whitby is a chief town of a district abounding with petrifications and containing not a few Antiquities”.

in library

The Society’s Library Today

Initially opened in two rooms over a shop in Baxtergate it subsequently moved to several other locations in the town but finally, by the end of the 19th century the Society decided it needed more space and a new building which opened in 1931 and adjoins the Municipal Art Gallery : The Pannett Art Gallery.

pannett park and abbey

We had an introduction to the collection in a new wing added 10 years ago with funds from The Heritage Lottery Fund. The volunteer curators, Stephen and Fiona, spoke enthusiastically about the collection and the Whitby Merchant Seaman’s Muster Rolls which are an important part of it.

The Muster Rolls are a unique series of historical documents which are the surviving paperwork for the Whitby Merchant Seamen’s Hospital’s regulation of the “seaman’s sixpence”, an eighteenth century pension provision. This pension provided financial support to injured seamen and to the widows and children of seamen who died while serving on merchant ships.


Example of Muster Roll from the Library website

They record a wealth of information about crews and ships, and offer a particularly rare insight into working men’s lives : age and place of birth; port where and when enlisted; where and when leaving the ship; name of the ship and its owners.

The Library holds on microfilm the Whitby Muster Rolls from 1747 to 1795 and also some Whitby Muster Rolls from 1800 to 1850. The Museum passed 7,000 Rolls to the Society in 2010. These require careful repair and conservation and much of the cost of this is being defrayed by The Thomas Roe Trust.

The main specialism of the Library is the Whitby local area :

Local History – collections of books, pamphlets, journals, maps, prints and manuscripts for Whitby and the surrounding area (approx. 15 miles radius)

oblique sailing

Maritime History – collections of books, Lloyds registers, and records including muster rolls, and ships’ account and log books


Geology – extensive collection of books and journals relating to the history of geology and the internationally important discoveries of Jurassic fossils made in the 19th Century in the Whitby area

Industrial heritage – sources for the development of the alum, jet, ironstone, and potash industries and the railways in the area

Family History – many sources including printed parish registers, lists of monumental inscriptions for many local churches, wills, and indexes to wills in the York Registry

Literature and language – a small literature collection focussing on novels, poetry and plays that are either by Whitby writers or are about Whitby, and a small collection on Yorkshire dialect

After tea and biscuits we were free to visit the Library and the Museum and Art Gallery.

After a picnic lunch in the lovely Pannett Park and a final look round the Museum a fellow library member and I headed into town. After a walk along the quayside we climbed the 199 steps to the church and the Abbey for more stunning views before returning to the coach pick-up point and the return journey to Leeds.

Whitby church

Whitby Church


Whitby Abbey

view from steps

View from the Top of the 199 Steps

Libraries Big and Libraries Small [1]

One Irish word I came to recognize on my recent trip, although I don’t know how it’s pronounced, was Leabharlann. Needless to say, it means Library.

TA Library

Colclough Room, former Tintern Abbey Library

And the first Library I came across was no longer in use as such. It was the library at Tintern Abbey. Since restoration this room is now known as the Colclough Room and is used as a gallery to tell the stories of the families who lived here.

To my mind the best place to pick up wifi is at a Public Library and I made a couple of visits to Lismore Public Library and Dungarvan Library on some of the wetter days that I spent at Salterbridge Gatelodge.

Lismore Lib Lismore Library

Lismore Public Library

On my day out in Cork I popped into the Cork Public Library. There was an interesting display in the foyer : The Best Banned in the Land featuring books banned by the Catholic church in Ireland.


The Cork Library Register of Banned Books

nasty list

Best Banned Books

Many of the authors were Irish and often the Library had bought copies which were later removed from shelves and returned to booksellers for credit. The exhibition focussed on those Irish authors. The list of “Our Nasty Novelists” included George Bernard Shaw, Edna O’Brien, James Joyce, M J O’Farrell (Molly Keane), and I recognised ‘Persephone’ author Norah Hoult (Persephone Book 59 “There were no windows”)

banned women

Banned Women

Norah H

Norah Hoult – Banned

E O'Brien

Edna O’Brien – Banned

old cork library

Later, on a Walking Tour in Cork, I spotted a new use for an old library



The Irish Tintern Abbey, Co. Wexford

Tintern Abbey arrival

Arriving at Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey has been beautifully preserved and restored by Heritage Ireland (Office of Public Works) using only the best quality materials and workmanship.

Tintern today

Tintern Abbey today

Stone work


Some ruins remain


The restored Abbey

The restored abbey

In AD1200 William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke and Earl of Leinster, was threatened with shipwreck off the south coast of Ireland and vowed to found an abbey whenever he should safely land. On reaching safety in Bannow Bay he redeemed his vow and granted 3,500 hectares of land for the foundation of a Cistercian Abbey – hence the name ‘Tintern de Voto’ – Tintern of the Vow. Once established, Tintern was colonized by monks from Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, Wales.

19th c house in nave

The 19th century house in the nave

The 19th century house in poor condition was largely removed. The clearing out of the Library above the Lady Chapel was one of the initial steps in the conservation works. Removal of vegetation and the repair of the library roof were the next steps. Most recently the window of the Library (also known as The Colclough (pronounced Coke-lee)  Room) has been restored. Much of the timber was salvaged in the repair. Most of the glass has been broken but some has been retained.

Library window repair

Conserving the window of the Colclough Room

Colclough Room

Library displays

Library displays

The Colclough Room tells the story of Tintern Abbey from after The Dissolution of The Monasteries in 1536 up to 1959 when Lucey Marie Colclough left the property and it passed into state care.

6:5 Lucey Colclough

Lucey Colclough (and trusting dog!)

Soon after the Dissolution the lands were passed to one Anthony Colclough from Staffordshire. He had two wives, the first was Protestant and together they had 12 children and the second was Roman Catholic and presented him with a further four children. With a mixed religious ancestry the family was saved from the worst of the atrocities which befell other Anglo-Irish families throughout the coming centuries.

Sir Vesey

‘Sir’ Vesey

Read About The Rake :

About Sir Vesey

Ampleforth Abbey Round


“The monks of the Abbey of St Laurence live a life inspired by the Rule of St Benedict based in a beautiful valley in North Yorkshire. St Benedict emphasised the importance of community living as a context for the growth of the individual.” [website]

ST benedict

St Benedict Sculpture by Judy Brown

Ampleforth Abbey has been home to a community of Benedictine monks since 1802. It provides: a co-educational day and boarding school for ages 13 to 18; hosts retreats, pilgrimages and time for reflection; is home to St Martin’s a co-educational day and boarding school for ages 3 to 13; welcomes visitors wishing to spend the day there and provides refreshments in its Tea Room. St Alban’s Sports Centre provides excellent sport and recreation facilities and is open to the public and the Abbey produces and sells its own cider, beer, and other monastic produce and provides unique holiday lettings.

“The walk is approx 7 miles in N Yorks Moors Western Area with afternoon tea option at Ampleforth Abbey.”

That was the brief message about the Weekday Wanderers‘ Walk today.

Good Samaritans

The Good Samaritan by John Bunting

It’s nearly a year since I had my day out with friends visiting The Plot and I was reminded of this as we walked down from the car park through the Abbey grounds to begin our walk.

Mill Lane Sign

Walk this way


Abbey from field

 The Abbey from the Field Track

From here we headed along the lane and into Ampleforth village itself before heading south on field tracks to the wooded area surrounding the Lower Fish Pond.

Lower Fishpond

 The Lower Fish Pond

From here, through the woodland, we had a steepish climb up, up, up to a track along the ridge which eventually opened out into ‘The Avenue’ a broad avenue with woods on either side which was the approach at one time to Gilling Castle.  Lunchtime!

The Avenue

The Avenue

Ampleforth College Golf Club occupies the grounds of the Castle and our route took us around these immaculately kept greens eventually dropping down into the village of Gilling East.

Gilling Church

 Holy Cross Church, Gilling East

We had the opportunity to look round the Holy Cross Church before moving through the village and past the HQ of the Ryedale Society of Model Engineers where members were hard at work.

Boys Toys

Boys and their Toys

Passing over rough meadow land we arrived at a wheat field which we waded through following a very narrow public footpath. A sculpture of a man by Anthony Gormley (old boy of Ampleforth College) overlooks the local countryside here.


Gormley Man

We were soon back in the College grounds and a tarmac track lead back up to the main buildings and the very welcome Tea Room.

Tea Room

Tea Room with local Mouseman furniture


Pear and Almond Cake nearly finished after a lovely day’s walk and visit

The Aislabie Walk from Fountains Abbey – The Short Route

Referring back to the Barden Moor Access Area practice walk a couple of weeks ago I’m pleased to announce that the alternative walk, which I had initially thought rather dull, was a big success so here’s a brief description of it and some photos. You will notice that the weather was exceptional that day. Several days on either side were dark and wet but the weather last Thursday was truly a gift.

Aislabie Walk

The walk was taken from a rather nice leaflet I picked up on a previous visit to Fountains Abbey. The Aislabie Walk (subtitled A journey through picturesque landscapes) is 17.5 miles (allow 8-9 hours) altogether. It’s a circular walk from Fountains Abbey (car parks and toilets) to Hackfall and back. However, along the way there are several points at which you can cut short the route and I chose the 7.5 mile option.

Aislabie map

We parked at the main Visitor Centre car park and set off down the road to the River Skell following it west and then north for nearly two miles until we reached the old sulphur springs and ruined buildings of Aldfield Spa. You could smell them as you approached.

Sulphur Springs

The Wanderers disturbing the Sulphur Springs

From the Springs we headed slightly uphill to Aldfield village itself, passed through a couple of fields of kale (this had been what I remembered as the ‘dull’ part of the walk, across meadows to Laver Banks where we lunched at Woodhouse Bridge and joined the road later at Galphay Mill Bridge (point 5 to point 16 on the map).

A pleasant track through former parkland, now grazed by cows, brought us back to the the gates of Studley Royal Park. We crossed the deer park (only spotted one) taking in views of the Choristers’ House, St Mary’s Church and Ripon Cathedral.

Studley Royal

Studley Royal Hall much of which was destroyed by fire in 1946

Ripon Cathedral in the distance

Ripon Cathedral in the distance

Church and House

St Mary’s Church and the Choristers’ House

St Mary's

St Mary’s, Studley Royal Church

So my concerns about the walk were not at all justified and a good day out was had by all!

Hailes Abbey Walk

HA Route map

Our Route : The Pink Diamonds indicate The Cotswold Way

Tewkesbury is only a few miles from The Cotswolds so on Sunday my sister and I chose the five mile walk “Thomas Cromwell and Hailes Abbey: how an important abbey was destroyed by a King’s Commissioner”. We drove the few miles to Hailes Abbey and parked up by the church. We decided to have our picnic lunch in the Abbey grounds after the hike.

Hailes Church

Hailes Church (undedicated)

After a short distance back-tracking down the lane we headed off the road along grassy field paths to the village of Didbrook. We were surprised that this village had a primary school besides the honey-coloured stone church and houses. The school does serve a largish catchment area though, not just the village.


Acorn Smithy in Didbrook

Didbrook Church

St George, Didbrook

After Wood Stanway, which we approached along quiet country lanes, we joined the Cotswold Way which is a National Trail and indicates to us a well-marked route with its acorn-topped wooden marker posts. After quite a climb we were pleased to see a wooden bench and enjoy the view towards the Malvern Hills and possibly the Welsh Mountains too.

The Cotswold Way

After passing the ramparts of an Iron Age fort (Beckbury Camp) we came across a bizarre little stone pillar with a niche carved out of it. According to local lore it was from here that Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall) watched the destruction of Hailes Abbey in 1539.

Thomas Cromwell's niche

A half-mile deviation from the Cotswold Way lead us to the hamlet of Farmcote with its tiny chapel and herb and chilli peppers farm.

Farmcote Chapel

St Faith’s Church, Farmcote

“The body of this beautiful little chapel is Saxon and fairly early Norman, though the round Saxon apse was destroyed in the early nineteenth century. It has massive windbraces and huge cross-beams, still bearing the axe marks of pillagers. It is thought that the Saxon builders of the Chapel made have made use of an earlier, possibly even Roman building. The Chapel has a Norman rectangular nave and a tiny chancel linked to it by a narrow Saxon arch. the chancel houses a Jacobean canopied oak pulpit and arcaded reading desk, oak benches of 1597, fine altar rails of the Seventeenth Century and an altar itself of the Fifteenth Century with the original Mensa slab scratched with the five crosses, symbolizing the five wounds of Christ.” BBC Domesday

St Faith's interior

St Faith’s Farmcote : Interior

From Farmcote we descended steadily down the track (Cotswold Way) to the road and Hailes Abbey where we flashed our National Trust cards and settled at a picnic table for our well-earned tasty lunch! After lunch we walked around the Abbey grounds studying the information boards and the museum artefacts and discovering just how important this lonely ruin off the beaten track had once been.


Welcome to the Cistercian Abbey of Hailes


Hailes Abbey Museum

As it was

Hailes as it was


Ruined Cloister Walls, Hailes Abbey


The Drainage Culverts Established by the Monks – Still in Use Today

Abbey through tree

Goodbye Hailes Abbey