Saturday, April 20, 2019

Ightham Mote

Not having visited the National Trust's Ightham Mote at Ivy Hatch near Sevenoaks before, mrs maytrees and I went there by car earlier in the week. 

Although the much maligned M25 motorway was busy it made the journey to Sevenoaks far easier and speedier than it was in the days before the motorway was constructed. 

A description of the venue is better left to guide books than yours truly; eg:

Ightham Mote is one of the best preserved, and certainly one of the most beautiful, moated manor houses in England. The house dates back to the 14th century. The name presents a challenge to linguists; Ightham may refer to an early settler of the region, named Ehta or Ohta. Mote may refer to the moat which surrounds the manor, or it may equally well be a derivative of 'moot', a gathering place.
The manor is arranged as four wings around a cobbled courtyard. The house is approached over a footbridge across a moat, which laps at the outer walls of all four wings. The original 14th-century house was composed simply of a great hall with a cluster of other domestic buildings and one bridge giving access on the west range. By the 15th century there were four wings, and a second bridge on the northwest range. In the 16th century, a grand Gatehouse Tower was added on the west range.
The current 'olde worlde' half-timbered look may give the wrong impression of Ightham Mote's history. For much of its existence, the walls would have been covered with plaster or render.
The first known owner of Ightham Mote is Isolde Inge (1330-1360), who may be responsible for building the oldest surviving part of the house. It was the next owner, Sir Thomas Cawne (d. 1374) who built the basis of the house we see today. Cawne is buried in the parish church at Ightham, two miles to the north of the house.
Ightham Mote had several illustrious owners through the subsequent centuries, including Sir Richard Clement (d. 1538). Clement was Sheriff of Kent and a courtier at the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII. A later owner was Sir William Selby, who also served as Sheriff of Kent. Selby is buried at Ightham church, along with his wife Dorothy, both of whom have very grand tombs, well worth a short trip to see.
The last owner of the manor was Charles Robinson. When he died in 1985 he donated the house and estate to the National Trust.
The area is also ideal for easy walking and given the ease of access by the motorway, a visit to another National Trust park say at Potters Bar again off the M25 beckons.

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