Follies at Hever Castle – Feature Fridays

Hever Castle Attractions Japanese Tea House And Lake
June 05 2020 | Garden


The theme for this week’s #FeatureFridays with Historic Houses is Follies.

On this Feature Friday, we take a look at two follies on Lake Walk; the Japanese Tea House and Anne of Cleves Bower House.

Today the walk around the 38 acre Lake provides an assortment of tranquil locations to reflect, away from the castle and gardens. These enchanting locations not only provide wonderful points from which to view the lake but are stunning vistas from Lake Walk itself. Families and nature lovers will enjoy the nature trail on Lake Walk and boating on the Lake provide fun for all ages.

Japanese Tea House Folly

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. For a closer view of the Folly you can hire a boat to row across the lake or take the Lake Walk. Visitors can walk around the folly but the interior is closed to the public.

Re-constructed in 2013 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Guthrie family buying Hever Castle, the Tea House Folly was designed to recapture the idea and purpose of the original Edwardian Tea House rather than trying to emulate an authentic tea house. Although it formed an integral part of the landscape design, the original Tea House was knocked down to make way for a pillbox 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.

Anne of Cleves Bower House Folly

The Anne of Cleves Bower House folly can be viewed from the pathway close to the Lake. The folly, which bears Anne of Cleves’ crest in two places, is close to the riverside bower, the only original section of the river that runs through the estate. It was hidden among the undergrowth and was rediscovered by Head Greenkeeper at Hever Castle Golf Club, Rob Peers when he was clearing the banks of the river to create flower meadows.

The origin of this folly is unknown. It is assumed to have been the brainchild of owner William Waldorf Astor, as it appears on maps dating back to this time, or perhaps even Anne of Cleves herself as the bricks appear to be much older.

Anne of Cleves owned Hever Castle until her death in 1557 but it is not known how much time she spent at the Castle. However, there is a surviving letter written by Anne to Mary Tudor in 1554 signed ‘from my poore house of Hever’.

The Bower House folly has been painted with the ‘Rainbow Mix’ of meadow flowers externally (available at the Hever Shop or Online Shop), while a more subtle mix has been used for the inside of the structure and includes species such as Chrysanthemum coronarium, Delphinium Consolida, Dianthus barbatus, Lavatera trimestris, linum perenne.

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