Redwood Stone – folly designers and builders

Tim Redwood has successfully reinvented the eccentric eighteenth-century English skill of folly building. And 2019 is the golden jubilee of his family business, Redwood Stone. Tim and his enthusiastic team will be celebrating those 50 years by exhibiting at the famous RHS Flower Shows at both Chelsea and Hampton Court. Folly building started at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1991 when Redwood Stone made and built three massive Gothic arches for John van Hage’s “Forgotten Pavilion” Show Garden. The garden won Best in Show, Redwood Stone were invited to exhibit in their own right the following year and the rest, as they say, is history.

Inspired by conversations with Roger Saul, founder of the iconic Mulberry brand, Tim next set about perfecting a technique for producing aged stone that “looks and smells” hundreds of years old – perfect for those discerning clients desiring a ruinous Gothic folly that looks centuries old, even if was built last week! Deep in Tim’s psyche are the fabulous mediaeval structures of nearby Wells Cathedral and Glastonbury Abbey – and the Gallo-Roman architecture of Provence where he has been a frequent visitor since his youth. All these details are examined and photographed for possible recreation in future projects. The folly components Tim’s craftsmen create are all hand carved in stone to achieve the distressed look before being moulded and then treated to give a convincing reclaimed feel that has confused experts on many occasions. Exactly how Redwood Stone do it is a closely guarded secret!

Today, Tim is still the person who designs, and often has a hand in building, the wonderful follies his eponymous company creates for clients across the globe – from Germany and France via Dubai and Japan to the USA and Australia. Being a small family firm with a great reputation, future projects are always looked forward to with great enthusiasm. 2019 should bring a Roman ruin in Thailand; a ruined Chapel in New Zealand; a glorious Gothic garden and tower in a famous garden outside Paris; a mediaeval herb garden, workshop and fortress courtyard in Wales; a dividing wall and swimming pool backdrop in Hampshire and a myriad of others, large and small.

People always want to know which projects Tim is particularly proud of – after much thought he mentions two: The Old Manor House Garden at Capel Manor where Tim designed an entire fortified Manor House ruin complete with its own Chapel. The first stage incorporating the Tower and Cloister of ‘The Queen’s Garden’ was completed in 2010 and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Further afield, Tim recalls a project in Wisconsin, USA for the New Glarus Brewing Company: run by Dan and Deb Carey, Master Brewer and remarkable entrepreneur respectively, which started when both flew in specifically to meet Tim and discuss how they could create a castle from Redwood Stone components as a tourist attraction – complete with ruined Great Hall for events and tastings, a ruined granary, bottle shop and brew house along with the odd tower and a chapel to set the scene! It is, however, often the smaller folly projects that Tim most enjoys as a bond and friendship often develops with the customer –  a folly concealing a duck house; a thunderwatch platform over the South Downs; and a screen for a compost heap that grew in scale to become a complete outdoor entertaining area with a castle ruin for a model railway, theatrical hot tub, BBQ and dining area!