Helping historic garden to reopen after devastating flood

When Storm Eva struck during Christmas 2015, the owner of an Anglesey estate could only stand by and watch as years of hard work shaping the beautiful gardens were washed away.

Since 1996 Anthony Tavernor, owner of Plas Cadnant Estate, had been carefully restoring The Hidden Gardens - a major tourist attraction. But following two solid days of heavy rain brought by the storm, the deluge finally wreaked its devastation.

The storm had arrived following six weeks of near uninterrupted rainfall and, with watercourses and drainage ditches already filled, surface water converged behind a two acre walled garden and ornamental pond. With the pond overflowing, the water became trapped behind the perimeter wall of the walled garden, which collapsed under the weight. This allowed the flow of flood–borne debris to swamp the inclined lower garden, and its network of interconnected paths and footbridges.

The resulting damage impacted on the structure of the walled garden, the washing away of several paths, and the partial filling of the ornamental pond with gravel and other debris. Part of the lower wall was swept almost 200 yards into the River Cadnant below.

“Nothing can prepare you for the moment that you realise that your livelihood is at risk," said Mr Tavernor. "But luckily nobody was hurt, the damage didn’t extend to the property and we had taken out adequate insurance to protect ourselves financially.”

Enter NFU Mutual

Simon Bates, Stafford-based NFU Mutual Agent for Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens, said: “The Tavernor family has been a valued customer of NFU Mutual for around 70 years - we have a great relationship and meet each year. True to Mr Tavernor’s selfless nature, he waited to call us until the day after Boxing Day as he hadn’t wanted to ruin our Christmas. Naturally it was upsetting to hear that the gardens had been destroyed, so I set straight to work to pull out all the stops for him when he needed us most.”

Luckily, the estate had taken the necessary steps to ensure a proper professional valuation of the property so that the level of cover and sums insured were sufficient to ensure the proper restoration of the gardens.

Upon receiving quotes and design plans from various contractors, Mr Tavernor made clear his preference for the company he felt would be able to meet the very specific requirements for rebuilding the historic site. Although this was by far the most expensive quote, NFU Mutual agreed to meet Mr Tavernor’s request, given the greater level of confidence in the quality of the outcome.

Simon added: “We try to work with our customers as much as possible and give them control over the way that their property is reinstated, working with them on decisions ranging from the contractors or suppliers selected, to design and architecture, to make sure they are happy with the result.”

NFU Mutual paid out a total sum of around £250,000 to ensure the gardens were repaired in full - covering the cost of quality building materials, landscaping, and the replacement and planting of flora.

A happy ending

Mr Tavernor added: “It has been a challenging time following the devastation caused by Storm Eva, as the extent of the damage caused reinstatement works lasting for over a year. The gardens reopened for the 2017 season on Sunday, April 2, and a huge number of well-wishers have contacted us, showing their kindness and support for which we are most grateful.

“A large part of the cost following the flood damage has been met by NFU Mutual and we are very grateful for the manner in which they have dealt with this claim.”

Find out more about NFU Mutual's Estates Insurance.

Watch this gallery of images showing the impact of the flooding at Plas Cadnant: