Kentwell News


The 'Tower of Babel' at Kentwell Hall
The largest wood sculpture in England.

Tower of Babel The storm-damaged great Cedar of Lebanon, which one of England's sculptors, Colin Wilbourne, has sculptured into his vision of the Tower of Babel is now complete.

How big is it? "It is just under 60 feet high and is carved out of one tree with nothing added", says Patric Phillips owner of Kentwell, "With an average girth of about 20 feet that is over 2,000 cubic feet of wood . If there is a bigger sculpture from a single piece of wood, I should be interested to learn of it." Perhaps, it qualifies as the biggest single wood carving in England or Britain or even in the world!.

"The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. When you do something new like this there are always some traditionalists who object but hitherto we have had no objections and numerous very enthusiastic comments." "So the hurricane has given us two firsts", Patric Phillips continued, "We hauled upright over 20 of the trees which had been blown over in Kentwell's ancient Lime Avenue, at a time when no-one else was even contemplating such an approach. And now this, making something new of a seriously damaged great tree."

The tree took Colin Wilbourne nearly 3 months to carve, working almost 7 days a week and about 12 hours a day, through nearly all weathers. "Colin is very pleased with his effort and believes it to be one of the best things he has ever done." "I agree", says Patric Phillips "What's more there is a wonderful amount of clever and amusing detail. The base of the tree is carved with four trompe l'oeil doors or doorways. One two year old was observed trying to walk through one of the doorways and could not understand why she kept bumping into something." "He has also used as references many details from Kentwell" added Patric Phillips, "Children especially enjoy finding the source on or in the House for many of those details."

Has it come out as Patric Phillips envisioned? "I must say it is far better than I imagined. We waited some 10 years to find the right artist and then needed to obtain the right design. His initial design seemed perfect an he has executed it reasonably closely."

Is Patrick Phillips still happy with the subject matter? "The tree always naturally seemed to lend itself to this story. I do not think I could have accepted anything else. Besides we see about us and in the media so much evidence of man's folly and aggrandizement that we need a constant reminder of our fallibility about us." "His interpretation is also a wonderfully original but oh so true conception of the Tower of Babel. It has given many people an insight into something which they may not previously have fully understood."

How long will it last? "Well trees do not stand forever", says Patric Phillips, "It naturally has a limited life of only a few years before bits would naturally start to fall off. Eventually the roots would rot and the whole would topple over. However, we shall do what we can to conserve it for as long as possible."

The tree can be viewed whenever the House & Gardens are open to the public (daily until the 6th of September).

For further information, to photograph or film please contact: Nicola Carr or Clare Smith on 01787 310207


Telephone: 01787 310 207
Facsimile:   01787 379 318

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