Derelict Georgian tower on the Bolton Estate in the Yorkshire Dales to be restored as a small entertainment venue hosting shooting lunches

A limestone folly on a Dales hillside shrouded in stories that it was built by a lovelorn aristocrat looks set to be repaired and brought back into use.

The Mount in Wensley, near Leyburn
The Mount in Wensley, near Leyburn

Grade II-listed The Mount, known colloquially as Polly Peachum's Tower, was built on Capple Bank near Wensley in the 18th century as a hunting box, but later fell into ruin.

Local legend has it that the third Duke of Bolton, Charles Powlett, had it constructed on land overlooking Bolton Hall, as a 'stage' for his second wife, former actress Lavinia Fenton, whom he had met when she appeared as prostitute Polly Peachum in The Beggar's Opera. However, historians believe the structure was marked on maps as early as 1723, suggesting it was more likely built by his father or grandfather as a shelter or vantage point to be used during hunts.

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The Bolton Estate is still owned by the Duke's descendants the Orde-Powlett family, who have now applied to Richmondshire Council for permission to bring the tower back into use as a small entertaintment space with capacity for 15 people.

The folly is made from local Great Scar limestone

Fittingly, they intend to honour its original purpose by using it to host shooting lunches for their guests.

The estate office says the buillding would be used for around 25 of these lunches per year and that the family would occasionally use it for private functions.

They add that the tower's current state of disrepair means it at risk of vanishing completely from the landscape within the next 50 years. It is thought to have been a ruin since at least 1798, when records show it was damaged by high winds.

The proposal is under consideration.