Monday, 11 September 2017

Knole to Ightham Mote Circular 11th September 2017

I left home to head off for a walk and after a bit of a drive I arrived at Knole and parked up in the National Trust car park. (A £4 charge applies if you aren't a NT member).

I decided to leave the visit of Knole to the end of the walk and walked off along a tree lined avebue known as Duchess walk.

There is 1,000 acres of Knole Park to explore.

Knole is very fortunate to be home to a 350-strong deer herd, which visitors enjoy seeing in their natural habitat year-round. While these beautiful creatures can appear to be friendly, they are wild animals - seen at their best from a respectful distance.

I follow Duchess Walk across a golf course, care should be taken here making sure its safe to proceed before crossing the holes.

I leave the golf course through a metal gate into Godden Wood.

I leave the wood and walk out into the Hamlet of Godden Green near to The Bucks Head Pub. ( A Shepherd Neame Pub).

I cross the Village Green and down a road past Maggoty Hole Farm.

After passing the Equestrian Centre I walk on through Chance Wood and skim the outer edge of Hall Place.

A late 19th Century formal, terraced garden with an adjoining ornamentally planted lake, laid out on the site of earlier formal gardens by the architect George Devey and set in a park of 18th Century origin with additional 19th Century planting.

Hall Place formed part of the manor of Hollenden until it was conveyed by Henry VIII to William Waller, passing from him to his son Richard and gaining the name of Hall Place at about the same time. The estate passed through the hands of a number of owners including those of Robert Burges who rebuilt the house before his death in 1794. During the late C19, the estate was owned by Samuel Hope Morley MP, for whom the architect George Devey built the present house in 1870-2 on an adjacent site and enlarged and laid out the gardens. The estate passed to the descendants of Samuel Hope Morley and remains (1998) in private hands.

I walk onto Hall Hill and down a short way before taking the path into Hangar Wood.

Leaving Hangar Wood as I step out onto Saxby Road in the area of Seal Chart, I walk uphill following the road for a bit.

Here I take a path on my right and walk on through Flanes Wood.
I leave the wood behind as I step foot onto Church Road in Stone Street,Seal.

I follow the road down to St Lawrence Church.

A sign Eating Tree
The church of St. Lawrence, built in 1868, is of stone in the Rectilinear style, and has a tower, built in 1888, and containing 6 bells: the east window and three smaller ones are stained, and there are 300 sittings. The register dates from the year 1868.

A romantic story and one of the most atmospheric Victorian churches in Kent. The story starts with the death of the six-year-old daughter of the local landowners whilst on holiday on the Isle of Wight. The daughter, Rachel was buried there at the Church of St Lawrence and here at Seal her parents started to build a church that resembled it. The architect was Howell and the builders Constable of Penshurst (both of whom were working on the patron's house to the north of the churchyard). The church - plain nave and chancel - opened in 1868. In 1876 two transepts were added in memory of another daughter of the patrons who had died aged 14 and the tower was a later addition of 1888. Today the interior is a period piece of late Victorian art. The east window designed by Henry Holliday is by Lavers and Barraud. In the south transept the faces in the glass represent the deceased daughter. Over the choir stalls are fine Venetian lamps, whilst the chandeliers in the nave were gifts from the patrons when the church was built.

During a severe thunderstorm on 30th May 2005 (Bank Holiday Monday) lightning appears to have entered St Lawrence Church at the junction of the vestry roof and the lower edge of the chancel roof. (NB The church did/does have a lightning conductor on the tower, and we had just received a month earlier the certificate indicating it had passed all tests. Moral: Lightning conductors only reduce the chance of damage!)

Two walkers who had been sheltering under the church lychgate from the thunderstorm saw the initial strike.
One fire engine was already attending another lightning strike (fortunately much less severe) at Lower Frankfield, so was on site within minutes. Eventually five appliances attended, with attention divided between getting irreplaceable items (altar frontals, etc) out of the church, and stripping off tiles from the roof to expose the burning timbers. Thanks to the fire crews’ great care in using the minimum amount of water, the resulting water damage has not been great.

I left the church and headed down past the school next door and took a path on my left up through a wood to Raspit Hill.

After making my way through Raspit Hill along muddy footpaths and bridleways I leave the woods and walk along the roads of Ivy Hatch. It has started to rain again, thankfully a only a quick shower and this soon passed.

I walk past Ivy Hatch Court.

The photo below shows the gardens and rear elevation of Ivy Hatch Court. The house was owned by Colonel C.N.Watney and his wife Winifred from at least 1919 until approx 1945 when it was sold and converted into apartments/flats. There was a daughter Miss Patricia Watney and a son, name unknown.
Mrs Watney was a keen hunt supporter and rode to hounds with the West Kent Foxhounds
Colonel Watney is understood to have been a patron of St.Bartholomews Hospital, London
Household staff during the 1920s and '30s included:
Mr. Taylor - Butler
Mr Saunders - Chauffeur
Mr Ernie Cox - Head gardener (lived at The Lodge with wife and 2 children, Phillip and Doreen)
Mr Cunningham - 2nd gardener who lived with family at Crown House
Mr Horace Palmer - 3rd gardener who lived with wife and 5 children at Crown House
Mr William (Bill) Jenkins - Groom
Horace James Palmer, served with Colonel Watney in India (now Pakistan) with the Queens Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) during WW1.
Horace died in October 1937 on his way to work at Ivy Hatch Court.

Photo of Ivy Hatch, the House 1901

I walk along Stone Street Road reaching the village itself.

I pass The Plough Public House. The building itself is over 230 years old and has a bar area, dining conservatory and private dining room, all of which have been recently renovated
I walk down Mote Road and arrive at Ightam Mote another National Trust property.

Ightham's Saxon name was Ehteham. At the foot of a hill, with a moat fed by the Shode, stands the small fortified manor house of Ightham Mote which has a fascinating, though blood-thirsty history.

Originally dating to around 1320, the building's importance lies in the fact that successive owners effected relatively few changes to the main structure, after the completion of the quadrangle with a new chapel in the 16th century. Nikolaus Pevsner called it "the most complete small medieval manor house in the country", and it remains an example that shows how such houses would have looked in the Middle Ages . Unlike most courtyard houses of its type, which have had a range demolished, so that the house looks outward, Nicholas Cooper observes that Ightham wholly surrounds its courtyard and looks inward, into it, offering little information externally.

There are over seventy rooms in the house, all arranged around a central courtyard. The house is surrounded on all sides by a square moat, crossed by three bridges. The earliest surviving evidence is for a house of the early 14th century, with the Great Hall, to which were attached, at the high, or dais end, the Chapel, Crypt and two Solars. The courtyard was completely enclosed by increments on its restricted moated site and the battlemented tower constructed in the 15th century. Very little of the 14th century survives on the exterior behind rebuilding and refacing of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The structures include unusual and distinctive elements, such as the porter's squint, a narrow slit in the wall designed to enable a gatekeeper to examine a visitor's credentials before opening the gate. An open loccia with a fifteenth-century gallery above, connects the main accommodations with the gatehouse range.

The Selbys

The house remained in the Selby family for nearly 300 years. Sir William Selby bought the house from Charles Allen in 1591. He was succeeded by his nephew, also Sir William, who is notable for handing over the keys of Berwick-upon-Tweed to James I on his way south to succeed to the throne. He married Dorothy Bonham of West Malling but had no children. The Selbys continued until the mid-19th Century when the line faltered with Elizabeth Selby, the widow of a Thomas who disinherited his only son. The house passed to a cousin, Prideaux John Selby, a distinguished naturalist, sportsman and scientist. On his death in 1867, he left Ightham to a daughter Mrs Lewis Marianne Bigge. Her second husband, Robert Luard, changed his name to Luard-Selby. She died in 1889 and the executors of her son Charles Selby-Bigge, aShropshire land agent, put the house up for sale in July 1889.

The Colyer-Fergussons

The Mote was purchased by Thomas Colyer-Fergusson. He brought up his six children at the Mote. In 1890-1891, he carried out much repair and restoration, which allowed the survival of the house after centuries of neglect. He converted a lumber room into a billiard room, added bathrooms and central heating, reorganised the kitchen and dining areas and carried out countless repairs. Ightham Mote was opened to the public one afternoon a week in the early 20th century.
Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson's third son, Riversdale, died aged 21 in 1917 in the Third Battle of Ypres, and won a posthumous Victoria Cross. A wooden cross in the New Chapel is in his memory. The oldest brother, Max, was killed at the age of 49 in a bombing raid on an army driving school near Tidworth in 1940. One of the three daughters, Mary (called Polly) married Walter Monckton.
During the Second World War, the reduced staff slept in the crypt to shelter from air-raids, and a German pilot was held there for a single night after parachuting onto the estate from his stricken plane.
On Sir Thomas's death in 1951, the property and the baronetcy passed to Max's son James, a lifelong bachelor. The upkeep and repair of the house left him in no option but to sell the house and auction most of the contents. The sale took place in October 1951 and lasted three days. It was suggested that the house be demolished to harvest the lead on the roofs, or be divided into flats. Three local men banded together to save the house purely for love of it: William Durling, John Goodwin and John Baldock. They paid £5,500 for the freehold, confident that some other, richer, benefactor would emerge.
We now entered the Great Hall. The Great Hall was built in 1340 by Sir William Cawne. It was positioned on the moot, an ancient gathering place.

 The manor house had a crypt which was below the water level of the moat - and this allowed the swift disposal of prisoners occupying the prison by the opening of a sluice gate.

 The tower at Ightham Mote was added at the time of the Wars of the Roses. During this time a trap was included in the floor of a room in the tower so that suspicious visitors could be dropped into a small dark hole where they would be left to starve. A ghost of an unlucky visitor is said to haunt the room above the main gate.

The Chapel

One of the Solar Bedrooms

Charles Henry Robinson

In 1953, the house was purchased by Charles Henry Robinson, of Portland, Maine, a bachelor. He could stay for only fourteen weeks a year for tax reasons. He made many urgent repairs, and partly refurnished it with 17th-century English pieces. In 1965, he announced that he would give Ightham Mote and its contents to the National Trust. He died in 1985 and his ashes were immured just outside the crypt. The National Trust took possession in that year.

Queen Palmer, the wife of American railroad engineer William Jackson Palmer, came to live at Ightham Mote in 1887. Although only here for a few years, she was an engaging hostess and attracted the elite of the Aesthetic Movement including: author Henry James; actress Ellen Terry; costume designer Alice Comyns Carr; and the renowned artist John Singer Sargent.
On display we have two notable works by Sargent: 'A Lady in White' and 'A Game of Bowls', both of which were painted at Ightham Mote.

A large kennel built in the late 19th century for a St. Bernard named Dido is the only Grade I listed dog house

The Stables Courtyard

After the walk around Ightham Mote and its grounds I leave and walk up a road passing Mote Farm.

I am now following the Greensand Way Path, The Greensand Way follows the ridge of greensand rock across Surrey and Kent, to the edges of Romney Marsh and almost to the Kent coast.

I am now climbing steeply up and up but with amazing views.

I pass through Greyberry wood, Elders Wood and through Shingle Hill Wood.

A Tiger in the woods!

I passed over One Tree Hill.

Imagine lovely views with year round interest. In spring, a carpet of wild garlic and bluebells emerges, whilst in summer the day awakens with the sound of a dawn chorus. Afterwards, the autumnal smell of munched leaves on the ground transforms into clean winter air.
With most of the property lying within the One Tree Hill and Bitchett Common Site of Special Scientific Interest, it is also within the Kent's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. One Tree Hill consists of a varied mosaic of habitats, with woodland and open glades and the rides (transitions) between these habitat types providing homes for some rare species.

I arrive at Knole Park after more woodland walking.

I walk on through Knoles beautiful grounds but thankful to be back, my feet are starting to hurt.

Knole is one of England's largest houses. It was constructed beginning in the late 15th century, with major additions in the 16th century. Its grade I listing reflects its mix of Elizabethan to late Stuart structures, particularly in the case of the central façade and state rooms. The surrounding deer park has also survived with few manmade changes in the 400 years since 1600. But, its formerly dense woodland has not fully recovered from the loss of more than 70% of its trees in the Great Storm of 1987.
Typically I'm here on a Monday when the house is closed but the tower is open. Still a nice look about all the same.

The oldest parts of the house were built by Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, between 1456 and 1486, on the site of an earlier house belonging to James Fiennes, first Lord Say(e) and Sele. Fiennes was executed after the victory of Jack Cade's rebels at the Battle of Solefields. On Bourchier's death, the house was bequeathed to the See of Canterbury. Sir Thomas More appeared in revels there at the court of John Morton — the Archbishop's cognizance (motto) of Benedictus Deus appears above and to either side of a large late Tudor fireplace here. In subsequent years it continued to be enlarged, as with the addition of a new large courtyard, now known as Green Court, and a new entrance tower. In 1538 the house was taken from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer by King Henry VIII along with Otford Palace.

In 1566, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it came into the possession of her cousin Thomas Sackville, whose descendants the Earls and Dukes of Dorset and Barons Sackville have lived there since 1603. The chapel-room with its crypt seems to pre-date this period and has contemporary pews.  In 1606, Sackville, Lord High Treasurer to James VI and I, undertook extensive renovations to the state rooms at Knole in preparation for a possible visit by the King. In 2014, archaeologists found the oak beams beneath floors, particularly near fireplaces, had been scorched and carved with scratched "witch marks" to prevent witches and demons from coming down the chimney.

The first lease was made on 1 February 1566, between Robert Dudley (Elizabeth's newly created Earl of Leicester) and Thomas Rolf. Under this the 'manor and mansion-house' of Knole and the park, with the deer, and also Panthurst Park and other lands, were demised to the latter for the term of ninety-nine years at a rent of £200. The landlord was to do all repairs, and reserved the very unusual right (to himself and his heirs and assigns) to occupy the mansion-house as often as he or they chose to do so, but this right did not extend to the gate-house, nor to certain other premises. The tenant was given power to alter or rebuild the mansion-house at his pleasure. As Mr Rolf died very soon after this lease, the tenancy transferred to John Lennard (of Chevening) and his son Samson, Lord Dacre's son-in-law.

The Sackville descendants include writer Vita Sackville-West (her Knole and the Sackvilles, published 1922, is regarded as a classic in the literature of English country houses). Her friend and lover Virginia Woolf wrote the novel Orlando, which drew on the history of the house and Sackville-West's ancestors. The Sackville family custom of following the Salic rules of primogeniture prevented Sackville-West from inheriting Knole upon the death of her father Lionel (1867–1930), the 3rd Lord Sackville; her father had bequeathed the estate to his brother Charles (1870–1962).

For centuries, visitors to Knole have been met by the imposing façade of the Gatehouse Tower. Passing through the huge wooden doors with the tower arching into the sky above, many have gazed in awe at the impressive entrance to this historic house.

I climb the steep spiral staircase to the top of the tower to be met with panoramic views of Knole Park. The breath-taking sight is worth the steps as it takes in the vast parkland with its wild deer herd, giving visitors the chance to appreciate the scale of Knole’s complex, 17th century roofline, with its many chimneys and carved stone leopards (the Sackville family’s emblem).

As I ascend the spiral staircase, I explore two rooms belonging to a former resident in the Gatehouse Tower. The atmospheric bedroom and music room were once home to Edward Sackville-West, 5th Baron Sackville. On display are many of his personal belongings, including books and music records from his varied collection, as well as his gramophone and visitor book.
Known to his friends as Eddy, he was a novelist and music critic who lived in the Gatehouse Tower at Knole between 1926 and 1940. Eddy was passionate about art, music and literature and was regularly visited by artists and literary figures of the Bloomsbury Group, including novelist Virginia Woolf and the painter Duncan Grant, as well as his famous cousin Vita Sackville-West, the gardener and poet.

Eddy’s visitor book at Knole contains records of visits by LP Hartley, Aldous and Julian Huxley, EM Forster, Raymond Mortimer, Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant and others – many of whom made up the backbone of the British literary and artistic establishment in the 1920s and 30s.

Eddy was a prodigiously talented musician, whose ear for all things musical defined much of his personal life and professional career. Prevented by ill health from pursuing life as a professional musician, he turned to music criticism and writing, becoming a respected music journalist, literary critic and novelist. Eddy wrote much of his work when he resided in the Gatehouse Tower, including publishing five novels.

There are new permenant displays in the Gatehouse Tower that focus on Eddy’s experiences as a gay man in the early 20th century. They shine a light on Eddy’s time in Germany during the inter-war and World War II period and his friendships, relationships and experiences during this time.

Surviving snippets of information suggest that the decoration of the Gatehouse Tower apartment was overseen by one of Eddy’s friends, the surrealist artist John Banting. Eddy’s life mask can be found on the wall at the entrance to his bedroom and is estimated to date from 1926.

Views from the top of the tower.

I leave the house and grab a quick coffee from the Cafe before heading back to the car to head home.

A 12 mile walk and two great National trust properties visted!

GPX File here................