the house & estate
(scroll for images)
The Estate House at Ashburnham was the the Principal Planters home for the large Mahatenne Estate, planted in the 1930s, when tea first came to this part of Sri Lanka.
Originally British-owned, the house and estate passed through gradually more Sri Lankan hands until it was bought by David Swannell in 2004.
Working tea estate
Now just over 100 acres in extent, Ashburnham continues to operate as a working tea estate. Around 20 tea pickers 'muster' (almost) every day to pick the top two leaves and the bud, sending the crop (twice daily) to our nearest factory.
The pickers are overseen by Mr Dassanayake who'll happily escort you on a guided tour of the estate.
Away from the tea fields
Beyond its tea, Ashburnham boasts a modest crop of cloves and pepper (less manually taxing to collect) as well as a small number of avocado, banana and papaya trees.
Perhaps more noticeable, though, is the river that runs through the estate, and the waterfalls that dot its course. One large waterfall and several little cascades and plunge pools make ideal afternoon hideaways.