Focus: They do what...? Byways of the charity world - The Folly Fellowship

Mathew Little

There are more follies per square mile in the British Isles than anywhere else in the world, but these remnants from a less utilitarian age need a guardian. The Folly Fellowship, founded in 1988, is a charity that aims to preserve the nation's collection of sham castles, grottoes and garden buildings, "to protect lonely and unloved buildings of little purpose".

Despite a charitable purpose of preserving the purposeless, the Folly Fellowship is a rather modern charity. Aware of the appeal of follies, it organises lectures on them for companies. It also locates "unusual, intriguing or bizarre" buildings for use in films, TV programmes and adverts.

Perhaps it should revise the fees it charges, though - its annual income for 2004 was only £18,000.

Much of the fellowship's work is taken up with preserving the idiosyncratic creations of slightly batty 18th-century landowners. But there is a modern hue to its activities. Among this year's planned events, for example, is a tour of "contemporary do-it-yourself follies".

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