This article refers to the Folly building. Not to be confused with the Folly (Organization).
The Folly (AKA Specialist Crime Directorate 9 or the Special Assessment Unit, SAU) has been the official home of British magic since 1775. The Folly building is also considered an active police station or 'nick' by the Metropolitan Police Service, but did not have the appropriate facilities to interview suspects or house prisoners until renovations in 2019.
Carved on the lintel above the door is the official motto of the Society of the Wise:
Scientia Potestas Est
a Latin aphorism meaning "knowledge is power".
The modern day Folly building is located in London, on Russell Square, a kilometre north of Covent Garden on the other side of the British Museum. It is on the south side of the square, and is one of a row of Georgian terraces.
Russell Square was originally built for the Duke of Bedford in 1799 and star architect of the day James Burton designed the grand Georgian houses that surround it. The area where the modern day Folly building is located was once part of the estate of the fifth Duke of Bedford, known as the Bedford Estate.
Prior to the construction of the modern Folly building, the members of the Society of the Wise met on the Bedford Estate in 'a faux medieval tower' or architectural "folly"--a building constructed primarily for decoration, but suggesting through its appearance some other purpose. The land of the Bedford Estate was subsequently sold and a new building was constructed near the original folly. This new building is the modern folly, but retained the nickname of the old meeting place.
It is five storeys high, with wrought-iron railings defending steep drops into basement flats. It has a flight of stairs leading up to its double mahogany doors with brass fittings.
The Folly has many features, including, but not limited to:
- a central atrium, “so impressive it’s thought to have inspired Sir Charles Barry in his design of the more famous Reform Club forty years later”
- a mundane (or general) library
- a library of books about magic
- a third library (the 'Black Library')
- a reading room
- a lecture hall (with a separate Ladies’ Gallery, reached by a back passage from the eastern staircase)
- a firing range
- a coach house
- several laboratories (among them a metal working lab, with adjoining dark room)
- a breakfast room
- a large dining room (currently not in use)
- a lounge (currently not in use)
- a smoking room (currently not in use)
- a private dining room
- several bedrooms (Three of them are mentioned: one belonging to Peter, one used by Lesley May and one used by Zachary Palmer)
- a billiard room
- It is not known yet where Nightingale's room is, or what it looks like.
Downstairs are the kitchens, sculleries (where Molly works), the wine cellar, the firing range, the armoury and servants’ rooms. The Rose jars found in the basement of George Buckland's house were placed in one of the abandoned servants’ rooms.
Recently the firing range and some other rooms have been converted to a modern custody suite with six cells and some other associated utilities. The entire installation is covered by a “Magical Suppression Area” maintained by Foxglove whose rooms are nearby.
The entrance lobby has a mosaic floor in the Roman manner, and a wooden and glass booth. Beyond this, flanked by two pillars, is a statue of Sir Isaac Newton, the founder. The centre of the building is dominated by a large atrium, with a marble floor, two rows of balconies and a Victorian iron and glass dome roof. The atrium also has busts of Newton and Casterbrook. This floor also contains the dining room, the lounge, the smoking room, the general library, and the lecture hall. There are two main staircases, and a back or 'service' staircase located near the front of the building.
The visitors’ lounge is a long room built just off the entrance lobby. It was built as an agreeable space for wives, daughters and other suitably genteel visitors to be entertained by members while making it quite clear that they weren’t welcome in the Folly proper. It had been nicely furnished with oak panelling, portraits of Sir Isaac Newton, Queen Charlotte, the fifth Duke of Bedford, and some quite splendid second-best upholstery.
The first floor is the location of the Folly’s teaching lab, and which appears as a design and technology workshop complete with fume hood, black iron anvil, lab tables, sinks, and bunsen burners. There’s also a study here, and Peter has a small office on this floor.
Peter’s bedroom can be found up the eastern staircase, to the first balcony, two more flights of stairs, down a second-storey hallway. It is a nice room of good size, with a high ceiling and two sash windows. It has a brass double bed, a ‘Narnia wardrobe’, and bookcases lining two entire walls. There is a gas fire surrounded by green ceramic tiles.
The Folly has three libraries: the mundane library, the magical library, and the Black Library. There is no computerized search engine for the mundane or magical library. Instead a card catalogue is contained in walnut cabinets which indexes the books by subject, and has a master index of books arranged by title.
The mundane library contains records such as Incident Books or the reports from the County Practitioners. The shelves are made of mahogany and the top shelves are reached by ladders. The magical library contains information on spells, treatises, and alchemy. All spell books are in Latin.
At the back of the building is a tradesman's entrance and a walled courtyard, within which is an old coach house, the bottom floor of which is converted into a garage. A wrought-iron spiral staircase leads directly to the first floor studio which has a partly glazed roof. While the main building is heavily protected by invisible, magic means, the old coach house has minimal protection, allowing the installation of cabled devices such as televisions and computer cables, which would otherwise weaken such defences. For this reason Peter Grant uses the studio as his personal office and living area.
In the early 20th century there was a smithy in the yard of the Folly.
- Whispers Under Ground
- Foxglove Summer
- The Hanging Tree
- Maple-clef. (2015, September 9). Folly Floorplan notes [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://maple-clef.tumblr.com/post/128698627167/folly-floorplan-notes. Original research done by tumblr user maple-clef.
- Lies Sleeping
- By PAUL FARMER, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14114413
- The Furthest Station
- Rivers of London
- False Value
- 'atrium life at the Reform Club'. April 2011. https://www.flickr.com/photos/grand_tour/5976494124
- Broken Homes
- Rivers of London, chapter 3 'The Folly'
- Moon Over Soho