Helgas Folly

Enter into a historical masterpiece of expression and creativity.


Madam Helga’s family were heavily involved with the islands Independence movement, Helga’s grandfather served in the first cabinet, her grandmother Agnes, whose family originated from South Africa, fought for women’s rights, whilst her aunt Minnette de Silva was credited as being the first Asian woman architect.


Her sister Anil De Silva Vigier a noted authoress, her father wore many hats in the political arena, was Ambassador to Paris France during the ‘reign’ of president Charles De Gaulle.


The walls ooze with history and of course there is Helga’s fascinating life; leaving her childhood home for school in the west, marriage much against her families wishes at 17, widowed by 32 (with three young children), second marriage in Las Vegas, did not work, back again to the land of her birth, Sri Lanka. And ensued a successful marriage to her lovely reclusive tea planter husband Desmond .

You have to move at a snail’s pace to absorb just a fraction of the many stories being told. From photographs of ‘aunt Minnette’ dancing with Sir Laurence Olivier and his then wife Vivian Leigh dancing with Peter Finch, who were here to film.


I particularly enjoy that you are given a very warm welcome on arrival and left to your own devices, free to roam mural filled walls and discover the building yourself with little or no sign posts. It took me 3 days to feel like I have fully lapped the place, or have I?

From the fairy guarded swimming pool, surrounded by jungle, to the old dusty authentic library the stories leap from the walls.
The Jane Lillian Vance Grotto is just perfect. Do not miss it on the left of the main entrance.



Getting the opportunity to stay in such a historical unusual place is a really unique experience. The happy smiling staff are lovely, they are very loyal and very protective of the family and of their ‘home’ Helga’s Folly, most of them have been here for many, many years, one I arrived aged 17 and is now 68.

Many of the ‘Folly Family’ have helped create the vibrant walls. Each telling a different story of their experience at the incredible hotel. From staff to resident artists from all over the world.


Watch out for the monkeys, they are very inquisitive. I’m pretty terrified as they gaze at me from the balcony whilst I paint, edging ever forward with a menacing look.


The energy in the whole place is just terrific. I had the honour of being a guest in the room once occupied by Gandhi.


Highly enjoyed in-depth conversations with Helga, hearing of her vision and passion for healing through art. She’s an inspirational woman and the place is simply magical.

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An inscription on the wall by an American professor reads: “I came wanting, and leave fulfilled”. I couldn’t agree more. I will never forget Helga and her Folly.

Enjoy Helga’s Folly, the museum & art gallery in a home. Find out more: http://www.helgasfolly.com

Hear former artist in resident, Jane Lillians Vances’ experience of Helgas Folly;




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