Roseberry’s Folly

Under threatening evenings skies Roseberry’s folly stands in a prominent position on an ironstone bedrock. A summer or prospect house, built sometime in the late 18th century.  The fashion to “enhance the landscape” was prevalent at the time, although modest by Capability Brown’s designs, they may have had an influence. Another summerhouse is marked on old O.S. maps on Faceby Bank but that has long since disappeared. During the Napoleonic Wars it is thought the summerhouse was commandeered by the militia manning the beacon that would have been lit on Roseberry in the event of an invasion.

Roseberry's Folly map


First light

An early start on a frosty morning with cloudless skies. Roseberry summited as the first rays of sunshine are reaching the summerhouse below. Cliff Ridge and Newton Woods are still in shade.

Roseberry Summerhouse, Dawn Twilight

A trip to the “Northern Powerhouse” planned so an early rise to get my daily outdoor fix. Being out on the hill at the crack of dawn is very satisfying.

The Summerhouse at Roseberry

A day finishing off the archaeological dig at Aireyholme Farm, but took the dog out this morning and snapped this photo of the folly below Roseberry.

Very little of its history is known. The oriental style of the roof is unique. There is a sketch of Roseberry dated 1788 by George Cruit that shows the building. It is believed to have been built by William Wilson, who retired to Great Ayton after making his fortune with the East India Company.

A plaque erected on the building by the National Park states that the building is a shooting box. I think it can categorically be stated that it is not a shooting box. Game shooting developed in the late 19c with the invention of the breech loading shotgun. In the 18c hunting was carried out with dogs.

So the options are that it is either a prospect house, to enhance the landscape, quite fashionable at the time. Or, a summerhouse where the ladies could rest and perhaps wait for the gentlemen to climb the summit.

The roof is clearly asymmetrical. This is because it has been modified at some time to include a flue for a fire. This could have been when a troop of four soldiers were billeted there during the Napoleonic war. The soldiers were responsible for manning a beacon on the summit of Roseberry to warn of a invasion by the French. Part of a network of beacons across the country.