“Acorn Dell” is the second phase of the playground FRLA designed for Hever Castle in Kent, the Grade 1 listed childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Situated beside the play castle, “Tudor Towers”, constructed in the first phase, Acorn Dell extends the narrative of the castle while also providing play opportunities for children under 7 years old. It also adds seating and an area for a refreshment kiosk. In keeping with the castle theme, an outer curtain wall (that doubles up as a bench) and look-out platforms in the trees increase the castle’s defences against whatever lurks in the “wilderness” beyond. In this wilderness, there are boulders and fallen trees to clamber over, tunnels to explore, as well as domes of living willow.
Traditional woodworking and blacksmithing techniques have once again been used in the construction of those elements associated with the castle. These have been complimented by 42 large natural stone boulders, sand and living willow in the “wilderness” area. Somewhat unusually for a playground, the bank has been planted with an extensive area of prairie-style planting made up from over 1,200 plants. When mature, this mix of grasses and flowering perennials will not only add to the wilderness feel of the area but also aesthetically link the play area with the other garden areas at Hever Castle.