Golden gates restoration

February 01 2022 | Garden History

The Golden Gates at the entrance to the Italian Gardens at Hever Castle have undergone vital conservation work to repair and restore them.

The two sets of gates which were put in when former owner William Waldorf Astor had the gardens created at the turn of the 20th century had not been repaired for around 20 years.

Hall Conservation carried out extensive repairs and restoration with temporary gates put in place while the historic ones were being worked on.

As well as repairs to the intricate design of the golden gates, a new locking system was added along with 5 layers of gold paint to achieve the final finish.

Matthew Boultwood, Blacksmith and Project Manager at Hall Conservation said: “The golden gates are incredibly intricate and ornate. One of the first things we did was manually clear back the old paint and rust to expose the details. There have been some previous inappropriate repairs such as electric welding in some places which we removed and repaired where we could.

“The paint finish chosen took at least five layers of paint due to all the nooks and crannies, it was very time consuming. As there is so much detail it took two days to get one coat of paint on both sides as we had to flip them over to make sure we covered everything.”

The installation of the gates also presented challenges as both pins which provided the hinge for the gates to rest on had worn or been damaged. On the Pergola walk side this meant Hall Conservation had to create a new bronze pin. On the Pompeiian Wall they had to completely reset the stonework.

Due to covid the work took longer than anticipated with the golden gates removed from the grounds in February/March last year and returned in November/December.

Curator Alison Palmer said: “These intricate gates were first put in place over 100 years ago and, unfortunately, over the years they have suffered from the weather and everyday use, until eventually we could see the primer previously used when they were last restored, around 20 years ago. So it is wonderful to finally have the gates looking, once again, golden and as they were first envisioned by William Waldorf Astor.

“The hard work put in by the skilled conservators at Hall Conservation will ensure that the gates will continue to protect Hever Castle’s unique statuary collection for another 100 years. “