Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Intriguing Manor House in Kent



Whenever I travel to England, we always go to Kent. It is where I met my husband and where he grew up. Strangely enough, my father was born in Kent, at Dover, so it was almost like coming home, when my family returned to that county after many years of traveling throughout England.
The last time I was there, I discovers Ightham (pronounced eyetam) Mote. The above pictures are from the National Trust Website. As you can see the house is surrounded by water, in fact a moat just like a castle. This was common in medieval times, when fierce knights and outlaws roamed the land. the house is located in the picturesque village of Ightam near Sevenoaks. You get to it down a narrow (one car wide) winding country lane overhanging with trees. It feels like time travel into the past.
To our dismay, the day we went it was closed, but we were able to wander around outside. I was so taken with the house I could not help taking photos and learning a bit of it's history. It will definitely make an appearance in a novel. It is soooo romantic. I will make sure to go back another day and you will get many more pictures. I adore this house.

This is my shot of the bridge to the front door. The green on the water is a pretty water weed, not scum. :) Look at the crenelated tower, just right for firing arrows at the bad guys. Of course, who knows, the bad guy might be inside with the poor benighted heroine. You can make up your own story.

The builder of Ightham Mote is apparently unknown, but the first known owner was Sir Thomas Cawne (c1360 -1374). See that? 700 years old. My spine is tingling. And people lived in it during the Regency. Oh my fingers are twitching with a story to fit this gorgous house. This house will be a character all by itself.

It is the most complete small medieval manor house in the country.

I am not going to say too much about it in this post, but I hope I can share some of my excitement, and I will have more information on it after my next visit.
But look at this! Can you guess what it is? Of course we historical writers are always having our handsome heros leap aboard their horses, but not everyone could leap and certainly not our heroines in long skirts.
It is of course an ancient mounting block. Er.... I think. I could not get through the fence to read the information on that board there.
So it could be the steps to a door. But I really want it to be a mounting block.
I will let you know, after my next visit.
You can see some of the gardens in the background and the high hedges and the wonderful stone wall that is so typical of houses in England, even today people put walls around their gardens. An Englishman's home is definitely his castle.
This is the back of the house. Look at those Tudor chimneys. Have you ever seen such a broad chimney. I am just rubbing my hands together thinking about getting inside that place.
And what about those timbered walls. By the way, we were there in June, look at that lovely blue sky and the puffy clouds.







The next two photos are pictures of the countryside behind the house, fields and woods. Again, it looks as if it might have appeared all through those seven hundred centuries. The farming methods would have been different, but the shape of the land and the feel of it has not changed one bit.


















I hoped you enjoyed this little ramble. I promise there is more to come. Next week, I am going to start a series on something I mentioned earlier this week -- the Theatre.