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!


10 comments on “Folly! at Fountains

  1. nilly says:

    This looks fascinating and is only just up the road! We met Simon Costin a few years ago when he brought his Museum of British Folklore (housed in a retro caravan) to Newby Hall. By the way I was surprised we didn’t see you at nearby Norton Conyers Hall today – it is open for this week only because of ongoing restorations. We used to visit regularly many years ago, sometimes just buy plants, and hope it will soon be open more often.

    • Yes, just on your doorstep – probably nearer to you than to me. I read more about Simon Costin and discovered that he’s Director of the Museum of Witchcaft in Boscastle where I’m staying the week after next.
      Would you know me if you did see me?? I hope you would let on, if/when you do. I’ve only visited Norton Conyers once, decades ago. I knew there was work going on but I didn’t know about the opening today. I’m going to Norwich tomorrow for the rest of the week so wouldn’t have been there even if I had known.

  2. Julie Stivers says:

    How very fun! I want to visit this. Did we go there when we went to Fountain Abbey? I have no recollection, tho’ I remember the Abbey.

  3. Julie Stivers says:

    Sorry, Fountains. Does not rhyme with Downton.

  4. Ah! Poetic licence 😉

  5. […] Simon Costin Introduces The Museum of Witchcraft […]

  6. […] when I arrived. I’ve posted several times about my visits to Fountains including  here, here and here. But I visit many more times than I have posted – it is just such a beautiful place […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.