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The UK’s favourite gardener and BBC television presenter Monty Don is to officially open a Japanese Tea House Folly at Hever Castle in Kent. Day visitors are invited to join press and special guests in The Italian Garden for the opening which takes place on Monday 10th June at 11.30am.
Built on the edge of the lake on the peninsula of Sixteen Acre Island, the Japanese Tea House Folly is best viewed from the Loggia. It has been re-constructed to mark the 30th anniversary of the Guthrie family buying Hever Castle.
Following the opening ceremony Monty will hold a brief questions and answers session with the public before visiting the Japanese Tea House. Visitors wishing to view the Folly close up during the day can hire a boat to row across the lake or take the Lake Walk.
The original Japanese Tea House was built by William Waldorf Astor who purchased Hever Castle in 1903. The gardens were laid out between 1904 and 1908 by Joseph Cheal and Son, created to showcase Astor’s unique collection of ancient Greek and Roman statuary acquired while he was American Ambassador to Italy. Over 1,000 men worked on the grand design with around 800 men taking two years to dig out the 38-acre lake on which the Japanese Tea House Folly stands.
The oldest plans of the lake show the Japanese Tea House in a prominent position on the peninsula of Sixteen Acre Island. Although it formed an integral part of the whole landscape design, the original Tea House was knocked down to make way for a pill box during the Second World War. Sadly, most of the plans and photographs were kept in the cellars along with other archive material and destroyed when the Castle was subjected to two terrible floods in 1958 and 1968.
Designed by Stephen Langer Associates and built by local oak framing company, Scott Partnership, work began on the Folly in April this year. Traditional timber framing techniques and locally sourced timber, some from the Hever Castle estate, were used to form the main structure. The striking red colour of the Tea House adds to its Japanese appearance, as do the four gold dragons sitting proudly on each corner of the roof.
The re-creation of the Japanese Tea House is principally about recapturing the idea and purpose of the original Edwardian intent rather than trying to emulate an authentic tea house. It is bigger than the original folly to accommodate a veranda that the public can walk around and sit under to view the surroundings away from the busier parts of the castle and grounds. Its interior will remain closed to the public but is available to hire for private events and special occasions accommodating up to 6 people comfortably.
Gardens open at 10.30am; Castle opens at 12 noon. Last admission 5pm; final exit 6pm.
Admission Prices: Castle & Gardens: Adults £15.00; Seniors £12.75; Children £8.50; Family ticket £38.50.
Gardens only: Adults: £12.50; Seniors: £10.75; Children: £8.00; Family ticket: £33.00
Group discounts for 15 people or more. See website for details.
For further information Telephone 01732 865224 or visit www.hevercastle.co.uk