Of moats and medieval knights

On Friday, it was Away Day at Ham House. The great thing about working or volunteering with the National Trust is that Away Days are spent at other fabulous National Trust properties (none of them as good as Ham House, of course, but they’re still nice).

This year’s Away Day was to Ightham Mote in Kent (pronounced Item Moat).

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And yes, it is surrounded by a moat. This is the view of it from one of the windows in the house.

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It was built in, are you ready for this, 1325! Isn’t that mind-blowing? Almost 700 years old. It had lots more bits and pieces added over the next five centuries but the original buildings are from 1325.

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This kitchen is from original build, as is the Crypt…

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In one of the upstairs rooms, there is a glass panel in the ceiling so that you can see through to the original oak beam roofing.

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The house has been owned by medieval knights, sheriffs, MPs, generals, businessmen and many others. In one room, the wall on my right was built by Isolde Inge (they think) in 1330, the wall on my left was part of a later addition built by Sir Richard Clement in 1530 and the motifs on the window are someone else’s addition but they don’t know the exact year.

As opposed to the extreme grandeur of Ham House, this house was a place I could imagine myself sitting down in, perhaps reading a book, perhaps lingering by the warm fire in the billiard room. One of the rooms actually, the Oriel Room, has been made back into a sitting room so guests can have a little sit down part way around. (Ham House is still better though, our stuff is sparklier.)

The New Chapel at Ightham Mote is an interesting room, mainly for this fantastic ceiling, painted in situ in the early 16th century.

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Another interesting thing is the way over-the-top Jacobean fireplace in the Drawing Room, which they actually had to lift the ceiling in order to fit in. Anyone else might just make a smaller fireplace. But not the Selbys (whose ownership of the house spanned 300 years). They got hold of the ceiling and pushed it upwards, for the fireplace must be put in and it must be huge.

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We then saw some rooms furnished as its last owner had them. He was an American businessman from Portland, Maine and his ashes are in the Crypt. Interestingly, his relatives traced his ancestry back to medieval knights.

After wandering out of the house, we saw these buildings opposite.

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It turns out they were built in 1457 and are currently being let out as holiday cottages… New cool weekend away destination, maybe?

We then lunched (not after I snuck into the kitchen to chat to the chef for a bit!) and I had the difficult choice between joining a garden tour for my last 45 minutes or raiding the shop for cookery books.

Guess which one I chose?

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8 responses to this post.

  1. I really enjoy our historic buildings and this looks worthwhile to visit

    Reply

  2. looks like a very interesting place to visit, full of history, and the odd ghost too? … 😉

    Reply

  3. […] « Of moats and medieval knights […]

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  4. […] I think about my trip to Ightham Mote the other day, part of it’s attraction was how they didn’t definitely know who’d […]

    Reply

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