Wednesday, 9 April 2008

An historical link between UK and US

Last weekend we went to a magical place in Kent, South East England. It was after browsing through the National Trust booklet that we came across Ightham Mote and decided to take a drive. Here is what we found.....

.... a lovely 14th century medieval moated manor house! This house, or Great Hall, dates back to 1330 and has been totally restored to its former glory. In fact the National Trust (guardians of property and land in UK to preserve our history for future generations) used this project as one of the largest conservation projects it has ever undertaken. Now £10 million later the visitor can oooh and aah as they walk around the house and gardens. The original builder is unknown but the first known owner was Sir Thomas Cawne (c1360 -1374).

The link between UK and US is that its last owner was Charles Henry Robinson of Portland Maine USA, who bought it from a consortium of Kentish businessmen in 1953. He remained a batchelor so on his death the property was bequeathed to the National Trust. He never aspired to great heights and so the house was little changed.

The walls of the manor house rise from the moat; the half timbered upper storey sits above the lower stone walls. This together with the castle like tower of the central gatehouse on the west side and accessed via a bridge over the moat, gives a very wonderful appearance that has little changed since it was first constructed in the middle ages. Throughout its life various additions were included such as the Old Chapel and Crypt, Tudor Chapel with painted ceiling, Drawing Room with Jacobean fireplace, Victorian Billiards Room and the most recent Robinson apartments.

In 1521, Sir Richard Clement bought the Mote for £400!! A fortune in those days. Having minor associations with Henry VIII, he customarily filled his new home with symbolic tributes to the King, including the stained glass windows in the Great Hall and the painted roof boards of the New Chapel ceiling, both depicting the union of Henry VIII with Catherine of Aragon. You can just 'feel' the history as you walk around admiring everything!

Some of the rooms were only opened to the public from 2004 when the restoration was finally completed. In fact as you walk around examples have been arranged for the public to view how, for example, the walls were originally constructed from the wattle and dawb method using cow dung mixed with hay and slapped against a wooden frame work!
Here you can see some of the vegetable garden laid out, probably for herbs which have the box tree hedging to contain them whilst you can also see the canes to support other types of plants.

Some of the photographs I took during our visit coincided with the heavens opening up which accounts for the grey skies. Still, indoors we were able to soak up the atmosphere of the building as we walked from room to room.
All in all we are so lucky to have such wonderful examples of time gone bye on our doorstep!

5 comments:

Chauncey said...

You may have missed your calling as a history writer, PQ.... Lovely entry.

Beth said...

What a great place to visit. Great photos and thanks for the history lesson. Wonderful article.

Liz said...

Lovely, Pat - we went there on a walk when we lived in London so it's nice to see it again!

Sixsisters said...

Wonderful blog Pat. Love the pics.

P.S. Original said...

Love these photo's! I visited England 2 summers ago and enjoyed the beautiful scenes like these ones!

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