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American and the Dog HouseWe visited Ightham (pronounced
"item") Mote near Sevenoaks during a tour of Churchill
and Kipling’s Kent, an excellent escorted holiday organised
Ightham Mote is a moated Manor House
dating from 1320 owned by The National Trust. Described as the best example of a small
medieval Manor House in the country it has been owned by Medieval Knights,
courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians in its 700 year history.
As with many National Trust properties
it owes much to the support of over 400 volunteers who provide the continual
care required by a property of this age, enabling it to be enjoyed by 100,000
visitors a year. They meet visitors of
all ages with a friendly smile, volunteering some anecdote or snippet of
information that enhances the well preserved artefacts you can see. They
talk with a passion for Ightham Mote, none more so than Brian Davison who gave
an excellent introductory talk. These 15
minute talks are available every day and it’s an excellent way
to start learning about the history of the house and grounds.
As well as the volunteers we have to
thank American Charles Henry Robinson for Ightham Mote being available to the
public today. After purchasing the house
and undertaking urgent repairs and refurbishment, he donated the estate to The
Walking around the courtyard provides
a great opportunity to spot the changes that have happened to the building The Haute family remodelled the single range
with outbuilding structure into a fashionable courtyard house during the 15th
and 16th centuries. It also contains a
Grade I listed dog house which, not for the first time, is where I find myself
There was so much to see within the
building. We admired The Great Hall
which has a timbered roof an impressive 11.3 meters high, plus the Cromwellian
armour which was found in the moat when it was drained in the 1890s. We also explored with the guides in each room
which family had been responsible for the changes, such as the symbols
throughout the house added by Richard Clement to bring attention to his links
with Henry VIII. The New Chapel ceiling
with its barrel vaulted roof dating to the 16th century is a place we lingered
over, as is the magnificent Chinese wallpaper.
I cringed as we were told of conservationists carefully stripping the
irreplaceable sheets off the walls and re-applying it, I would have ripped it
I’m not sure the
fireplace in the drawing room was entirely to our taste but it certainly
appealed to Dame Dorothy Selby in 1612.
So much so that the entire roof on one side of the house had to be
raised to accommodate it (picture).
Outside we explored a fraction of the
14 acres of peaceful gardens with an orchard, water features, lakes and
woodland walks. Its position nestled low
in a valley on the edge of the Kentish weald, also provided excellent defence
from potential assailants, as it cannot be seen from much of the surrounding
We were also impressed by the amount of
things there were to do for children, with activity sheets for them to complete
to give them interest in the house, to a natural play area in the grounds, with
a discovery den and plenty of places to enjoy a family picnic. Indeed anyone can enjoy the beautiful
surroundings and cheeky Silver Travel Bag took two deck chairs as he relaxed in
the grounds (picture).
To explore the estate there are steps,
uneven floors and some hills in the grounds to negotiate. Click
here for a more detailed access guide produced by the National Trust.
All that was left to do was enjoy a
much needed cup of tea in the Mote Cafe and our most enjoyable visit was at an
end. Come soon, it’s well worth it.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Just Go! Holidays
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