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Other Hethersetts

Hethersett, Sri Lanka

Three images of the Hethersett Tea Plantation in Sri Lanka sent to us by former Hethersett Parish Councillor Nick Jarvis. On the left is the Flowerdew cottage where the founder of the plantation lived. In the centre is a back view of the factory which is now a luxury hotel and on the right the tea plantation. Click on the images to enlarge them. The picture at the top of the page shows tea boxes clearly labelled Hethersett

A number of people have contacted us after visiting the Hethersett tea plantation and Hotel in Sri Lanka.

Former Hethersett resident and parish councillor Nick Jarvis visited the factory in his words "only for a cup of tea." Nick takes up the story: "We took with is a pamphlet - Hethersett Two Hundred Years of Change - containing pictures of old Hethersett and the management were fascinated.

"On a wall was a map of old Hethersett containing line drawings of some of the older buildings and we were able to show the staff the modern photos of these buildings from our pamphlet."

Now Nick and Maggie Jarvis' daughter Rebecca is getting married and will be spending a couple of nights of her honeymoon at the hotel and is hoping to send the management their own copy of the pamphlet.

Jill Seaman also wrote to us, having just returned from a two night stay at the Heritance Tea Factory Hotel on the Hethersett tea plantation near Nuwara Eliya. Pictures from Jill's visit are below. Just click to enlarge them.

"Coming from Norwich originally and having two aunts that live in Hethersett (one on Malthouse Road and one on St David's Road) I was astounded to discover that the Hethersett in Sri Lanka was named after the Hethersett in Norfolk.

"It's a fantastic place in a fantastic setting and I would encourage all your parishioners to go and visit especially as the owner is offering a very generous 20% off the bill!!" Jill said. 

Three more images from Nick Jarvis' collection. On the left a signpost to the plantation, in the centre a general view and on the right a problem never encountered by buses in Norfolk!!! Just click on the photographs to enlarge them.

Finally we were contacted by George Baker from Liverpool who also informed us that the Heritance Tea Factory had been converted into a "unique hotel."

"The estate was founded by a native of your village who called it the Hethersett Estate in memory of his home village. The hotel is housed in the old tea processing factory with lots of the old equipment still on show," George told us.

You can read more about how the plantation came into being in previous articles below.

Previous Pieces on the Plantation

Villagers in Hethersett, Norfolk, England, are being invited to take a cut price holiday break in Sri Lanka - at the tropical Hethersett tea plantation, 5,500 miles from home.

The invitation comes after villagers discovered a tea factory founded by their ancestors hundreds of years ago had been converted into a luxury hotel.

The hotel is set in the heart of Hethersett estate and even boasts a Hethersett bar.

Colin Wilson, at the time chairman of Hethersett Jubilee Youth Club, stumbled across the hidden link when he received a letter telling him about the hotel.

I was over the moon when I found out about it. I think it is a wonderful tale. It is a lovely hotel and looks quite magnificent, he said.

The abandoned factory was discovered by hotel director Gaurin Wickremasinghe, who converted it into a hotel two years ago. He is now hoping to meet up with villagers from Hethersett in Norfolk.

He discovered that the plantation was founded by William Flowerdew, a former, Hethersett resident, who left Norfolk around 1879.

He is reputed to have set up the plantation and named it after his home village, but then returned to England by 1881.

Mr Wickramasinghe said: "I found out that the tea plantation was founded by the Flowerdew family and decided to find out more about them."

He has offered anyone with a Hethersett address a 20 per cent discount on accommodation at the Tea Factory Hotel.

He said: "Hethersett is a charming village. I found the two pubs very interesting and visited the famous Ketts Oak and found the gravestone of one of the Flowerdew family."

Facts about the Hethersett Factory in Sri Lanka

 

The factory produced some of the best Ceylon Tea for 50 years

The factory produced half a million kilograms of tea per year.

All the machinery was powered by one engine which now stands in the entrance lobby.

Tea from the Hethersett factory was the first to fetch the highest price in the world for silver tip tea from Ceylon ( a hand-rolled, sun dried whole leaf tea).

Hethersett tea was auctioned in London for 1.10s.6d over 30 times the average price for a pound of tea.

The original plantation, bought by William Flowerdew, consisted of 250 acres of which he planted 150 acres with cinchona.

The factory closed in 1973 due to cost-cutting and old-fashioned machinery.

Hethersett, Sri Lanka, is 6,800 feet above sea level and six degrees from the Equator.

The following article appeared in the Eastern Daily Press Newspaper in April 2006:

It was almost a case of home from home for a former Norfolk man on holiday in the "elephant island" of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.

Five thousand miles from England, and almost 7,000ft up in the tropical hills, Rob Kirk came across a tea plantation called Hethersett, named after the south Norfolk village where his parents lived for almost 30 years.

It was, Mr Kirk learned, founded in 1889 by a planter called W Flowerdew, who came to the British hill station of Nuwara Eliya from Hethersett.

The tea he grew on the surrounding hills was good quality; in 1891, tea from his plantation sold in London at 30 times the normal price.

Flowerdew's old factory is now a hotel called The Tea Factory, which has won many international awards for conservation. His Hethersett plantation is still producing tea, and Flowerdew's old bungalow still stands in the hotel grounds.

As Rob discovered, the Hethersett name is now well-established at the hotel:

There's a Hethersett Bar, which serves a cocktail called Hethersett Fog (tea, lime juice, Angostura Bitters and lemonade).

An old railway carriage converted to a dining car stands outside at Hethersett railway station.

A small working museum outside is called The Hethersett Mini Tea Factory.

A sign points to the nearby Hethersett Hills.

The serving area in the restaurant is built with Hethersett tea packing cases.

Even the complimentary bottles in the rooms are Hethersett Mountain Spring Water.

But what captured Mr Kirk's attention most was a framed map of Norfolk's Hethersett on a hotel wall. It was a modern parish map, and clearly showed Malthouse Road, where his parents lived.

But more poignantly, it showed the Church of St Remegius, where his mother's funeral service took place, and where her ashes are interred.

"It quite took my breath away to see such a detailed map," said Mr Kirk. "All of a sudden, it formed a real personal link with the place in a very moving way."

Mr Kirk is a former pupil of the Hewett School who now lives and works as a journalist with Sky News in London. His father Bob is a retired Eastern Counties Newspapers typesetter, and an Archant pensioner. Bob now lives with his daughter Julie Hunt and family in Lakenham.

There is a co-incidence in this article as not only did I previously work for the same organisation (Eastern Counties Newspapers) as Rob, but I also came across him on a number of occasions when we both worked as journalists in the Midlands in 1978!

We have also come across a Presbyterian Ladies college in Melbourne, Australia, which apparently is named after our Hethersett. To read about this Follow this link