First look at gothic garden folly branded “bonkers”

Posted On 07 Sep 2022 at 6:45 pm

A Brighton couple’s ‘bonkers’ fantasy has come true with the completion of a camp vampire-inspired gothic castle folly in their back garden.

Paul Byrne and James Drain decided to construct the stone castle after being quoted £25,000 for wooden decking and deciding for that kind of budget, they wanted something more permanent.

Three years and a small planning battle later, their vision has become a gargoyle-adorned reality.

Spacewords Brighton

Paul, an art director, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to bits – over the moon. The builders did an absolutely sterling job and it’s fulfilled all our imagination.

“We thought it would look good but wow, we were completely blown away. It could have gone down a tacky route but when you see it in the flesh, it’s incredible.

“It looks spectacular. It’s just two raised platforms with some screening walls. We had a quote done for decking a while back and it came to £25,000 because of the angle of the garden – you would need RSJs.

“I just thought I couldn’t comprehend spending that amount of money for something that’s going to rot in a few years time. Stone came from a need for something that would last forever.

“Interior designers from time to time talk about three words wisdom. It has to have a sense of yourself and a sense of place.

“Our three words are gay, decadent and vampire. Everything that we do has to go through that filter – it can be one, two or three words.

“This ticks vampire, it ticks decadent and it’s very, very gay.”

The back of the garden before the folly was built


The castle has been made using reclaimed stone and stonework from Sussex – much of which originally came from a quarry in Horsham.

The plans were so elaborate they required planning permission – and after a handful of neighbours objected because of fears of overlooking, councillors were given the final say.

But the committee unanimously approved the plans, describing them as “bonkers” and “fun”.

Paul said although some neighbours had objected, others were delighted with the final result.

He said one neighbour had been very supportive, but had sadly passed away before it was finished – but her daughter thought it was amazing.

Sadly, as the folly went over budget, this swallowed up all the funds for a castle-warming party for this year – but Paul says they are planning one for next summer.

He said: “A very good friend of our ours died of ovarian cancer and we are going to do a fundraiser next year in her honour.

“She was a massive advocate of it but unfortunately she didn’t get to see it. It will be a celebration of her life.”

  1. Nathan Adler Reply

    Good for them – looks fab.

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