Getting the value of your Monet! The old clay well in Dorset is turned into a stunning replica of the French Impressionist’s masterpiece The Water Lily Pond
- Claude Monet’s water lily pond has been recreated in Weymouth, Dorset
- In 1999, the family that owns the gardens decided to create the Japanese bridge
Every year thousands make the pilgrimage to Claude Monet’s home in northern France, or to the Parisian museums where his works of art hang.
But now the setting for the Impressionist’s idyllic water lily pond paintings at his Giverny home has been recreated in Dorset.
Busloads of visitors arrive in the flowering season to admire the colorful replica of an old clay pit in Weymouth, which became Bennetts Water Gardens 64 years ago.
Founder Norman Bennett’s great-granddaughter, 19-year-old Isla, is the fourth generation of the family to work on the eight-acre site, which is also the National Water Lily Plant Collection with more than 300 varieties.
The family decided to build a replica of the garden’s famous Japanese bridge in 1999.
Founder Norman Bennett’s great-granddaughter, 19-year-old Isla (pictured), is the fourth generation of the family to work the eight-acre site.
The family decided to build a replica of the garden’s famous Japanese bridge in 1999 (pictured).
Isla helps run the shop while her father James, 44, looks after the lilies, and her parents, Angie, 72, and her husband, Jonathan, 73, own the site.
Angie Bennett said: ‘We get wonderful feedback. People say it’s fantastic because it’s so close to the real thing, but without the crowds.
Jonathan grows the same types of lilies in the pond that are in Monet’s garden.
But there’s one thing it can’t quite emulate: the old weeping willow tree that stands on one side of the bridge is on the opposite side of the original.
Railroad sleepers used to link the two sides of the lake until the Bennetts decided to commission the new bridge in 1999, which led to a doubling of visitor numbers.
Now about 25,000 come each year, while Monet’s own garden attracts 500,000.
In 2014, Radio Times accidentally featured the Dorset version in a travel promotion to visit the water lily pond at Giverny.
Monet immortalized the scene in a series of 18 paintings over a 20-year period beginning in 1899. He died in 1926.
In 2018, a painting of water lilies from the collection of American investment banker David Rockefeller sold at auction in New York for $84.7 million (£66.1 million).