Settle: Preston’s Folly

One of my favourite buildings is in Settle. It’s called The Folly and is a large seventeenth-century gentleman’s house. Its name is rather intriguing. Built by lawyer Richard Preston in 1674, its imposing façade must have demonstrated its builder’s wealth and worldly accomplishments. This is folly, for Preston is now dead and the house soon belonged to another. After his death, his estate was broken up and sold; Anne Read has suggested its original name was Preston’s Folly. Since then, it’s been a furniture shop, farmhouse, bank, holiday let, bakery, warehouse, refreshment rooms, fish & chip shop, doctor’s surgery, salvage business and  museum. Preston was great in his day, and perhaps to be feared. His grand house echoed its occupant‘s status. But none of it was to last. 

Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.

Ecclesiastes 10:6