The UK’s favourite gardener and BBC television presenter Monty Don officially opened the Japanese Tea House Folly on Monday 10th June 2013.
Monty said before officially cutting the ribbon"It’s a huge privilege to come and open this new Folly, so this is a real, real pleasure. And by the way the word ‘Folly’ is one we should celebrate – there should be more follies in this life. So I’d love to cut the ribbon to declare it open, because I want to go and see it; have a close look at it!"
The oldest plans of the lake show the Japanese Tea House in a prominent position on the peninsula of 16 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 2013. 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 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.