Mt. Ephraim Gardens with its large house and 800 acre estate is situated in Herne Hill in the centre of Kent’s rolling valleys, approx. 48 miles from London. The estate was first built in 1695 and for the last 300 years has been cared for and attended by the Dawes family. The gardens had to be completely re-furbished after years of neglect due to the Second World War but they have been lovingly restored with many different flowers and rock and water gardens. In the centre is a lovely old sweet chestnut tree.
Herne Hill itself is just outside Faversham, which is an old English settlement that can be dated back to pre-Roman times. Kent is famous for its beautiful countryside, cherry trees, apple orchards, hop fields and pretty girls. As Charles Dickens once wrote, “Kent, Sir, Everybody knows Kent”. Within the Mt. Ephraim Estate is the Mont Field Cricket Ground which was once a County Ground. Faversham is also the home of England’s oldest family run brewery – Shepherd Neame. Kent is rightly proud of its many local beers.
Once a year (this year from August 3-5), Mt. Ephraim opens its gates to A New Day Festival, and what a wonderful occasion it is too! Three days of great music, sitting about making new friends, re-acquainting with old ones and seeing people from previous years.
There are two stages which are set out at the bottom of two fields, nicely close, but far enough apart to be just right as it is about a two minute walk between stages. The Spitfire Stage and the Shindig Stage have bands who follow each other on with military precision. As you walk back up the fields each side is lined with stalls, selling everything your heart could desire: fish ’n’ chips, sandwiches, pastries, curries and pizzas. There is a marvellous cheese shop selling all sorts of local delicacies as well as people selling clothes and records (vinyl) and CDs – mostly of the artists appearing at the festival. There is a fabulous tent in between the stages where, after each band finishes, they congregate and sign any CDs bought by the patrons.
At the top of each field are the beer tents. All beers are kept at the same price (last year is was £3.50 a pint). The festival also employs proper, experienced bar staff and this makes all the difference.
The cricket pitch is turned into a camping/glamping site with plenty of parking space and the amenities are in abundance and impeccably clean. There are also plenty of nearby hotels and inns. Greed is not on the agenda at the New Day Festival so the numbers are kept down to allow plenty of freedom to wander about without having to queue.
With all this, there are Rock & Roll bands too. Last year the lineup was amazing and this year they have bettered it. Each day has a band in the mid-afternoon who could easily headline the event itself. On Friday its John Otway, Saturday Bernie Torme, and Sunday Son of Man. Saturday is headliners all day long.
A New Day Festival is a very special event for music lovers so if you happen to live in the UK or be visiting in early August, make sure to check it out. For more information, visit: www.anewdayfestival.com.
Note: Written by Mott The Dog of Jameson’s The Irish Pub, Soi AR, North Pattaya.
(Photos courtesy Gem Redford Photography)