Thursday, 25 July 2013

National Treasures!

The Garden of England – July 2013

We have started our 'holiday season' (I know – us retired folk are on permanent hols!) with a trip to Kent. We stopped with an old university friend from our Exeter days and were blessed with lovely hot weather.

We are long-time members of the National Trust and, in some years, it is fair to say we contribute more than gain. This July though, we went to three NT properties in as many days!

Looking down at Scotney Castle - link

Looking across the moat. The Castle dates from the 14th Century – though was probably never finished. Various wings were added as improvements in the 16th and 17th century as a family home. In 1843, a 'new' house was built by the owners on top of the hill, dismantling part of the old Castle house for stone.

The ruined part of the Castle House

It is interesting to learn that Margaret Thatcher rented a flat on the Estate here in the 1970's and 80's as a weekend escape from her Westminster life.

The next day, we went with our hosts to Bateman's House. This was the home of Rudyard Kipling from 1902 until his death in 1936. It is a gentleman's Jacobean house from the 17th century with a 'modern' garden. Link

Looking across the lovely rose garden to the house

What was as interesting is that the National Trust run a working flour mill – operational on Wednesdays which is why we were there.

Kipling had taken out the waterwheel and placed a water turbine at the edge of the mill pond to run a generator to charge batteries – in turn giving electric light.

The National Trust have re-instated a (smaller) water wheel complete with the running gear and the mill stones. Result – stone ground flour!

From the mill pond level
Looking up at the wheel and water turbine pipe squashed together
Water flow – milling underway
Running gear below stairs
Our friend – the miller – explaining how it all works
The grain hopper and mill stone underneath – enclosed for safety and to reduce dust?

On the third day of our National Treasure tour, we had an extended visit to Ightham Mote – a fantastic medieval moated manor house dating from 1320. Link

These photos don't really do the building justice – what a fascinating and well preserved building. Ightham Mote was the subject of a special Time Team programme about it's restoration.

All in all – a very pleasant (and hot!) trio of treasures and a great post for my 100th!

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