RYEDALE Folk Museum has taken delivery of a piece of its history following a journey of thousands of miles.

A carved wooden settle that was used as an integral prop by William Hayes in his daylight photographic studio, now one of the 20 heritage buildings within the open-air museum, has been returned to its former home after journeying more than 7,000 miles.

William was a prolific local photographer, highly active during the first decades of the 20th century.

Originally in York, the Hayes studio was moved to Hutton-le-Hole in 1911 and allowed him to document life across Ryedale over several decades, a traditional which was continued by his son, Raymond.

Helen Mason, collections team leader at the museum, said: “Intricately carved, it made a rather grand seat for many of William’s subjects. What is particularly special is that the settle is now displayed alongside several photographs which feature it. It very much feels like it is back where it belongs.”

The bench has been kindly donated in memory of Janet Pavlak, who inherited it from her father. Janet had been living in the state of Illinois in America and had taken the settle with her when she married. Janet died earlier this year and it was her wish that the settle be returned to Yorkshire.

Janet’s brother, Martyn Calvert, fulfilled that wish by returning it to Ryedale Folk Museum.

Their father, Cyril, resided in Hutton-le-Hole in the 1940s, living in Lilac Cottage when he served as the local policeman. Cyril was also a keen amateur photographer and from this interest a great friendship grew with Raymond Hayes, William’s son, who was by then running his father’s business, eventually bequeathing the studio, the oldest daylight photographic studio in the country, to Ryedale Folk Museum.

Helen said: “The studio a very special space and even hosted William’s own wedding reception when he married Margaret Harland. It is wonderful that the settle has returned.”