Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Our England is a garden...

You'd expect a post with such a title* to have Kipling connections but really it's about Kent, which is known as the Garden of England for its bountiful hops and fruit orchards. In particular it's about this exquisite medieval manor house near Sevenoaks where we spent a happy day:

*first line of The Glory of the Garden

Ightham Mote

Ightham Mote (pronounced Item: I asked) has a long and complicated history, beginning in the mid-14th century. There are Tudor, Jacobean and Victorian additions and the furnished rooms reflect this, from the medieval and Tudor chapels (the latter having a unique barrel-vaulted ceiling with painted panels) to early 20th-century bedrooms and library. Oh, and a moat. And a Grade 1 listed half-timbered dog kennel which you can see in the courtyard in one of the photos above. It's owned by the National Trust which spent 15 years and £10 million restoring it and who also look after its estate of several hundred acres.

After looking round the house and delightful gardens, we took a three-mile walk around the estate woodlands and lanes. The first half of the walk regaled us with a Wordsworthian profusion of wild flowers, some of which I know, others I'm guessing at after squinting in my little pocket book of wild flowers. I'd love to hear from people who know more about wild flowers than I do! That's probably most people.


Lesser Celandine

Ransoms (Wild Garlic)

Germander Speedwell

Dog Violet

Wood Anemone

Yellow Pimpernel

Lady's Smock (Cuckoo Flower): thanks to Carla for identifying

Ground Ivy or Bugle?

Greater Stitchwort?

Yellow Archangel

Wood Spurge

Red Campion?

May Blossom

On the second half of the walk, the views over the Kentish Weald (below and the blog header) in beautiful spring sunshine were breathtaking. My camera scarcely does them justice):


Alianore said...

What gorgeous, gorgeous pics, Sarah! Thanks for posting them. I don't know Kent very well at all, and your post has given me a strong urge to go there, right now. ;) Ightham Mote looks stunning.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Alianore - what makes Ightham Mote so delightful (for me anyway) is the non-grandiose scale of it. The various families who built it and added to it weren't big shots and they seem to have designed it to live in rather than to make an impression. Go there immediately (or as soon as possible)!

Karen said...

Gorgeous pictures!
From the depths of memory came an inkling that Ightham Mote was connected with a novel, and yes, I've just pulled an ancient copy of Anya Seton's Green Darkness off the shelf and there it is. In the author's note AS says she visited the house in 1968 and saw the niche from which the 'walled-up girl' had been ex-mured. The then owner made Anya Seton welcome and gave her acess to his private notes and library which helped her with the book.
It's so long since I read it that I can't remember anything about the story or the significance of the house and the girl, unfortunately!

Kirsten Campbell said...

Lovely photos, Sarah. What a beautiful house and garden! It's wonderful to see so many flowers in bloom now. Looks like summer is finally on the way!

Carla said...

What a lovely place! Could the mysterious flower be lady's smock, also called the cuckoo flower?

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

That's exciting, Karen - thank you for finding this out. I've only read one Anya Seton novel, Avalon, but will look out for Green Darkness! I love all these connections.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Kirsten, I'm glad we made the most of those sunny days. The weather seems to have gone back to clouds and rain now. I hope your exams are going well!

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Carla - thank you for this. Having looked at my flower book again, I'm sure you're right and I'm going to caption the photo accordingly.