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Welcome to Narnia

EMILY IRELAND

Sanity is being who you are really meant to be.

Those are the words of Justine Kingdon, creator of Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties in Narnia.

Justine, a Wairarapa writer, musician, dancer, and former circus performer is ready to take people “down the rabbit hole” and into a world of magic, all set on the grounds of Featherston’s historic “castle” Fareham House.

The million-dollar property was sold to three sisters after being put on the market in 2014, and they have since embraced overseas workers and local artists like Justine, transforming the 10-hectare property into something reminiscent of a commune.

“One day I just walked in,” Justine said.

“And I said, excuse me, I need a place for my Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties in Narnia, do you have one?”

“And they said yes.”

The place in mind was a hall adjacent to the house.

“There must have been about five years’ worth of mud on the floor, and then bird poo all up the walls,” Justine said.

“So, I spent the next week or two scrubbing and scrubbing the floor.”

You wouldn’t know what a state the hall had been in judging by its appearance today.

A look inside the Narnia tearoom. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND
A look inside the Narnia tearoom. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Its whitewashed floors are complemented by one-of-a-kind artworks and shabby chic furnishings.

One such piece of furniture, a backless wardrobe, is used as the entrance to the hall where Justine throws her Mad Hatters Tea Parties.

“Put on a fur coat and come through the wardrobe into Narnia,” Justine said.

She was dressed as the White Witch – or as she prefers it – the White Queen.

Sometimes her own children dress up as Alice, Cheshire, and Hatter – she describes it all as the infusion of two worlds based on the beloved collection of books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland.

“To me, both of the books are about being who you are.

“This is an issue in the world… Most people are not being who they are.

“Mad Hatters Tea Parties in Narnia is a way to release people into who they really are in a way that makes sense to them.”

Although dress-ups and tea parties may sound like the makings of a party for small children, Justine stressed that they weren’t destined for children under 12, rather, “it is for the child within”.

“There’s not enough magic in the world – and magic is everywhere, it’s just not well-represented.”

Justine’s tea party project is not her only ‘mad’ endeavour.

She once spontaneously joined a circus, helped set up a home for destitute men in Delhi, relearned ballet as an adult, and worked as a story-teller dressed up as a mermaid.

“Everything I’ve done all through my life is intuitive,” she said.

“But, you have to trust that you will have enough to live on.

“Sanity is being who you are really meant to be. Most people aren’t. You’ll look crazy being who you are, but you’re actually sane.

“And that’s my calling in life. To be who I am and to help others be who they are.”

Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties in Narnia are held at Fareham House every Sunday at 2pm.

For more information, or for private bookings, visit the Mad Hatters Tea Parties in Narnia Facebook page.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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