Mock Tudor playhouse heads to Stuttgart from King’s Lynn company
Flights of Fantasy sends a taste of historic England to Germany
The property market may be tough at the moment, but top-end �40,000 play houses are still selling to those rich enough to indulge their children.
A mini mock Tudor residence complete with fitted yew kitchen, is heading from King's Lynn to Stuttgart for the garden of a wealthy family who want a very individual playhouse for their children. With a hefty price tag comes the sort of attention to detail the customer expects.
'It is beautifully made with a distressed exterior, fitted kitchen and staircase - a work of art really,' said company owner Russell Bowlby, who runs Flights of Fantasy from a faceless North Lynn industrial unit.
He will be heading to the German city in the next couple of days to install the playhouse which will arrive from Norfolk on a flat-bed lorry.
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The company started at Mr Bowlby's former home in Congham, near Lynn, and began with a playhouse he built 25 years ago for his own children. He recently sold it for �20,000.
'It's all word of mouth really. We create craftsman-built play pieces and people like them,' he said.
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The company has worked with a range of buyers from Middle Eastern royalty and owners of Premier League football clubs to private families and stately homes, including Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, where it created a huge replica of the famous building for children to play on.
'Stately homes and castles are great. We have just got a contract from Casle Bolton for a play area modelled on the building and it will be something special,' said Mr Bowlby.
The company workshop is currently home to the biggest slide it has ever built - 80ft of gently twisting wood which will be fibreglass lined and installed in an Oxfordshire hillside so the family has a quick way of getting from a barbecue area to a trampoline. With a decking platform, there isn't much change from �20,000.
Although the recession has made life a little tougher for Flights of Fantasy, an unexpected sideline has emerged.
'We are now being asked to re-sell play equipment divided up after a divorce settlement. There is always a re-sale value in them,' said Mr Bowlby.
Two model tractors are also currently being finished by staff at the company. They come complete with proper tyres, climbing handles and the added bonus of a slide. One of them is heading to Hatfield House.
Despite many people feeling the pinch of economic difficulties, Flights of Fantasy has achieved �1.5m in orders over the last four years and looks set to continue entertaining children for years to come.