It's incredible to think of some of the subsequent uses for the Folly - it's certainly been versatile! In past years it's been a bakery, warehouse, furniture shop, bank, salvage business and even a fish and chip shop.
Current plans seem much more fitting for this fascinating old building. The beautiful Grade I listed building has been reinvented and its future secured. It's now owned and run by The North Craven Building Preservation Trust who have raised considerable funding and are determined to put the 17th century building at the heart of Settle once more. It's now a "House of Mystery", home to the Museum of North Craven Life, Artisans Gallery, and the Settle Coffee House.
Only a few steps away from Settle market place, the Coffee House has quickly established itself as a cosy and atmospheric place to go for a coffee or meal, with the added advantage of contributing towards the upkeep of the spectacular building. In the adjoining room, the Central Hall is the Artisans Gallery, a showcase for artists and makers from the surrounding area. It's a great idea - any purchases support local makers and make a contribution towards the preservation and running costs of The Folly.
Refurbishment and development work is ongoing. When I recently visited I particularly noticed the craftsmanship of the internal doors. There's a good quality finish that feels solid and reassuring: the building is now in very capable hands. So what of future plans?
They're refreshing the exhibition and events programme, and working with other local organisations to make sure the Folly feels welcoming and interesting to locals and visitors. The beautiful Main Hall will soon be home to a new Heritage Discovery Centre, telling the story of Settle, and enhanced by town trails.
I love their theme for 2019 - the Year of Curiosity. The idea is to put more of their objects on display, telling their many curious stories. For example, they have hidden 10 objects in the Gentleman's Study, challenging visitors to find them. Future plans include an exhibition called 'Tales from the Ancient Graveyard', 'Changing Landscapes', and exhibition telling the the stories of nine Craven families and the legacy of WW1, and an exhibition in partnership with the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line telling the stories of those who worked and lived along the Settle-Carlisle Railway and those who continue to do so.
They also have three popular Yorkshire artists exhibiting on the staircase: Hester Cox, Printmaker; Frank Gordon, Artist; and Stuart Brocklehurst, Printmaker.
The message is simple - there's a lot happening and it's really worth going to see the changes at Settle Folly.