FORMER JLS star and presenter of CBeebies’ Down on the Farm, JB Gill was joined by his wife Chloe and son Ace to officially open the new play area, Acorn Dell at Hever Castle.
Pupils from Hever Primary School were among the first visitors to try out the new natural play area aimed at those up to seven years old.
Acorn Dell has been designed to allow children to freely explore and use their imagination. Features include a two metre high living willow structure, a giant sandpit, a mound with three tunnels to clamber in and a climbing frame. Located in the trees are two lookout platforms linked by a clatter bridge and with a slide for making a quick escape.
There are 42 play boulders of various sizes dotted around the play area to climb on, sit on or to use as stepping stones.
JB Gill said: “I have extremely fond memories of visiting Hever Castle as a child and having a lot of fun with my family during the summer holidays. As we approach a particularly sunny and warm summer holiday, it often seems like such a long time since children were safely able to use the world as their playground. That is one of the reasons why I’m such an advocate for this playground. Not only does it encourage children and their families to experience an important historic part of our national heritage, as I did so many years ago, it also allows them to reconnect with one of the most important things for us to do as humans – play. I know that my own children will have great fun playing here and I hope that it will inspire fun for every child and every family that has an opportunity to play here in the future.”
Hever Castle CEO Duncan Leslie added: “We thought long and hard about what to call the new play area. As one of the main features is a large Oak tree it seemed appropriate to use the word Acorn (as the young of the Oak). The word Dell is historically associated with a hollow in a wooded valley which perfectly describes where the playground sits.”
The new play area aims to blend in with the Tudor Towers adventure playground with the built in seating area for parents made up of curved oak benches topped with castellations (the first line of defence!)
The natural theme of Acorn Dell is reflected in the grasses, ferns and lavender which will surround the site.
The new play space will complement the current facility for the under fives with its swings, slide and climbing frame. Parents and carers will also be catered for with a new dedicated refreshment area.
Photos kevin black