This summer the UK public will be able to follow in the footsteps of Catherine Zeta-Jones, David Jason and Pam Ferris at the Darling Buds of May farm in Kent.
The 1990s drama, set in 1950s rural England, was filmed on location at Buss Farm, Bethersden near Ashford. When the property came up for sale last year, entrepreneur and Darling Buds of May fan Simon Coulson jumped at the chance to buy it, renovate the property and turn it into a guesthouse.
“I bought the farm because of the show, I loved the TV show,” said Coulson, “I used to sit down with my granny on a Sunday and watch it.
“When it came up for sale, I thought there had been a missed opportunity to capitalise on its TV history, so I took it on as a project.”
Over the past year, Coulson has renamed the property Darling Buds Farm, and is transforming the four main buildings including a farmhouse, which was Pop Larkin’s farmhouse in the series; the oast house, which was on the title sequence, plus a Tudor barn and cart lodge, which were used in various scenes.
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“I’m converting them all,” said Coulson, who is already taking guest bookings for August. “People can come and holiday in Larkin’s farmhouse… there will be 11 bedrooms when it’s all done, and we’ll let out three buildings individually.”
The Darling Buds Farm will have poster boards around the grounds, explaining scenes from the series, from where the fun fair was to where the nightingales were singing. Coulson has been collecting original memorabilia from the show from eBay to enhance the experience.
“I’ve got the original high chair that the baby sat in and I’ve started collecting old farmyard stuff, old wagon wheels, anvils and junk that was all around the [Larkins'] farmyard, piled high.”
Visitors can explore the surrounding 35 acres of countryside at the Darling Buds Farm, and there’s plenty to do in the local area, from visiting castles and strawberry picking to lounging around at the nearby beach. Coulson is also hoping to attract the stars of the show.
“Philip Franks, who plays Charley, has already come down – he’s Catherine Zeta Jones’ character’s husband in the show, so has the original producer and set director. They brought the yellow Rolls Royce down. That was a quite a nostalgic day,” said Coulson.“Once it's up and running I’ll definitely be asking Catherine Zeta-Jones, David Jason and Pam Ferris to come and do the grand opening, whether they’ll come or not I don’t know.”
A stay at Darling Buds Farm will cost approximately £20 per person per night, and the property will be open to the public from August 2014.
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