Memorial Bench Unveiled in Honour of Former Gardener

Dick Longley
November 16 2017 | Garden History
Hever Castle archives

Staff in 1962 – Dick Longley pictured third from right on the back row

Memorial Bench Erected In Japanese Tea House

A memorial bench has been unveiled at Hever Castle & Gardens in honour of a former employee who grew up on the Estate and worked there for 30 years. He died this year at the age of 89.

Dick Longley was born and grew up on the Estate as his father, Charles worked as a night watchman. Charles helped to dig William Waldorf Astor’s 38 acre lake as well as helping to create the rose garden.

Dick first started working at Hever Castle in 1952 after seeing an advert in a newspaper wanting a tractor driver and mechanic. He then went on to work in the gardens before he left in 1982.

Dick was also present when the original Japanese Tea House was taken down to make way for a pill box during the Second World War and he came forward when there was an appeal asking for photographs of the tea house ahead of plans for the new folly which was opened in 2013.

Working at Hever meant Dick met some of the famous visitors including the Duke of Edinburgh, Grace Kelly, Morecambe and Wise, Robin Cousins and Petula Clark.

Hever Castle CEO Duncan Leslie also recalls Dick talking about another famous visitor. He said: “I remember asking him what his favourite memory was and he told me (with a twinkle in his eye) it was when he was cutting grass on the river bank that he bumped into Elizabeth Taylor sunbathing in a bikini. She was here with Richard Burton who was filming Anne of a Thousand Days.”

Daughter Sandra said: “My Dad loved Hever and Hever Castle and would be absolutely thrilled to think that we were putting this plaque on the bench in his memory. He was a loving, gentle and unassuming man so this would have been a real surprise for him. We look forward to visiting Hever Castle and the gardens so we can sit by the lake and remember him fondly. Thank you so much.”

The Dick Longley memorial bench is situated on the Japanese Tea House alongside the lake.

memorial bench