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Folly cafe wins Best Cafe/Restaurant in the UK

The Coffee House at the Museum of North Craven Life has ben recognised as the best in the country.

Coffee House staff travelled from Settle to London on Wednesday for the glittering awards ceremony, dubbed the Oscars of the museum world, where they received the accolade.

The Coffee House was one of only five museum cafés to reach the shortlist. The others were at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, Hill House Café in Scotland and Derby Museums.

Coffee House manager, Victoria Murray, said: “We've had an incredible time at the Museum + Heritage Awards and are ecstatic to have won. It's been exhausting but I am over the moon. What an amazing experience!"

Originally a museum volunteer, manager Victoria Murray has overseen a period of growth after the pandemic. The opening of the Coffee House in 2017 transformed the use of the building.

Visitors to The Folly increased from 3,500 in 2017 to 35,000 in 2022 and the charity that runs it, the North Craven Building Preservation Trust, now employs a team of 12 catering staff, making it one of  Settle’s largest employers.

Heather Murray, Coffee House kitchen and social media manager, said she was very proud of Victoria.

“This win reflects the efforts of all our hardworking team and we couldn’t have done it without our loyal customers and dedicated staff. We are totally thrilled to be bringing the award back to Settle.”

The Folly, a Grade I listed 17th Century townhouse, is the home of the Museum of North Craven Life and has a long history of food service.

The original kitchen was fitted out with high quality cookware and even a clockwork jack to turn the roasting spit in front of the fire. The holes where this was fitted to the stonework can still be seen in the Coffee House.

Within the “snug”, a cosy room at the back of the café, a bread oven was inserted into a former staircase. Between 1841 and 1859, Jane Ingham, a local widow, ran a bakery from The Folly, selling traditional havercakes.

In 1895 The Folly became “Taylor’s Refreshment Rooms”, which offered “tea, coffee and refreshments supplied at short notice and on reasonable terms”, and in 1904, the Hearsum family opened a fish and chip bar and ran a potato wholesale business from the building.

Trust chair, Heather Lane, said: "I'm so proud of everything that our fantastic Coffee House team has achieved since we opened in 2017. This award is recognition of their hard work, their excellent customer service and their commitment to supporting the local economy by sourcing as much as possible from local suppliers.

We are delighted to have won in the face of some very stiff competition and we look forward to welcoming many new visitors to The Folly to sample our wonderful cakes and scones!"

Museum + Heritage Awards director, Anna Preedy, said: “What is particularly wonderful about the Museums and Heritage Awards is the vast and varied range of organisations represented on our shortlist – from large, national museums to small, local heritage organisations and everything in between.

The Awards provide a rare opportunity to recognise and celebrate the determined, confident, and creative work of our extraordinary sector and are the ultimate stamp of approval.”

Opening in 2017, its now one of the largest employers in Settle, a team of 12 catering staff run the Folly Coffee House. It's incredible that visitors to The Folly have risen from 3,500 in 2017 to 35,000 in 2023  All profits go to the upkeep of the cafe and museum.

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