folly! at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal

I haven’t been to Fountains Abbey since I was a teenager on a school trip, and it’s been on our list of places to visit for a while.  In fact, I even stuck it in my post of places I wanted to visit this summer.  So when we were invited along to a bloggers picnic at the end of July I was very excited.

The picnic was held at the Studley Royal Water Gardens side of the beautiful World Heritage Site. When we arrived we were greeted by the immediate beauty of the grounds as we drove through the deer park.  We then made our way up to the Banqueting House where the picnic was being held.  Sat in front of the intricately designed banqueting house, surrounded by a wildflower garden and all the trees was just the perfect setting for any picnic.  

We ate our lunch and then all had a go at the lawn games they had out for us.  Luca was amazing at croquet and Ant showed off his skipping rope skills. We had loads of fun just playing there and catching up with other bloggers I haven’t seen for ages, like Jen from Mum in the Madhouse, and meeting new bloggers too, like Sian (Helpful Mum), Sophie (Mama Mei) and Lucy (Harrogate Mama).

Luca & Ant then discovered that you can get dressed up in the Banqueting House and paraded around in their new get up, before we were all gathered together to start our VIP tour of the newly installed follies.

There have always been follies within the water gardens, one of them being the banqueting house, which are placed in places that really show off the beauty of the gardens.  They added to the adventure and the mystery of the garden and encouraged visitors to explore.

The four new follies, have been designed to make the gardens more playful and interesting, and I have to say, they definitely have.

We started by finding The Gazing Ball, and looking at the different view you can see from the different frames and through the Gazing Ball itself.  I think this one was my favourite as the view across to one of the original follies is just breathtaking.

We then headed down to The Cloud.  A folly designed by an 11-year old that amazingly rains, when it rains.

Then on we headed to Luca’s favourite, The Listening Tower.  This folly was designed to take you back to the time when a Bathing House stood nearby, and the melodic dripping noise you hear inside is really rather relaxing to listen to. Luca spent ages with his ear pressed to this folly.

The last one was Polly.  Now Polly is really rather impressive.  The structure itself is bright and bold and very inviting.  The kids went dashing up the hill immediately to discover what it was all about.  This folly has a huge 250mm diameter glass lens situated at the top, which reflects images from the outside, inside.  It’s called a ‘camera obscura’ and you can turn the lens 360 degrees to see the whole way around the outside.

After this, we all sat down for a well-earned ice cream at the top of the hill beside Polly.  And the kids all made their own folly from play-doh.  Luca made a raft with a snake on it and was rather proud of his design.

Once we had all enjoyed our ice cream in the sun and had another chinwag with each other the VIP tour was over.  And just in time too as the heavens opened as we were heading back towards to car.

We all said that we wanted to go back and visit Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal again this summer as the follies are just a snippet of all the things they have on offer within the National Trust property.  There was so much more left to explore and we can’t wait to go see all the old Follies too.

Thank you so much to the team at Fountains Abbey for inviting us to such a fun day, we had a great time and the staff were all truly lovely which made it even better.

If you want to visit the new follies you can find out more details here on the Fountains Abbey National Trust website.


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