Kent, Part 2

Savings, savings, and more savings….

I had particularly wanted to visit Bodiam Castle (built in 1385) as we’d seen it on Simon Schama’s History of Britain series (which we’d rewatched in the van over the winter). It really is a beautiful castle from the outside. What Simon Schama omitted to mention as he stood in front of the castle, though, is that the inside is a complete ruin and has been since the 17th century…. The National Trust were doing the best they could, and had costumed folk doing talks and inviting people to imagine this and that…


Batemans, the home of Rudyard Kipling, was, if I’m honest, disappointing. I didn’t learn anything about the house and precious little about Rudyard Kipling, so it was difficult to see what the point of it all was.


There was one bit that was fantastic though – the garage, passed on the way to the house itself. Inside was a Rolls Royce that once belonged to Rudyard Kipling, and there was some interesting / entertaining information:

Rudyard Kipling was a pioneer motorist, 1899 vintage. One of those “maniacs” for whom even the shortest journey was hazardous; each return to base a triumph; and each policeman a natural enemy”.      and so on….

If only they’d continued this sort of approach in the main house. It did turn out, though, that despite being described as a “pioneer motorist”, in his 36 year motoring career Kipling never once drove himself; he always had a driver.


Scotney Castle has a Victorian mansion, gardens, and at the bottom of the garden a semi-ruined medieval castle.




The most interesting thing about Scotney was that the old castle hasn’t actually been a semi-ruin for very long. A chap called Edward Hussey inherited it in 1837. He had the new house built and the old  one partially wrecked on purpose (part is still standing and was used for staff accommodation etc; part was reduced to the ruinous state we see today). The idea of this was to create a Picturesque view from the new house across the gardens to the ruin beyond. The things people did in the past that we’d never get away with today….

Finally, I went to Sissinghurst, which is the home and garden created by Vita Sackville West and her husband.


The gardens were lovely, lots of little “rooms”, though of course they are still a long way from their summer prime. Having said that, it was relatively quiet when I visited, and I can imagine it being extremely busy in mid-summer (a good few American accents were to be heard here…).

This part of Kent is ancestor-central, so I also spend some time driving round and checking out some of the local villages / poring over information in the family history centre at Marden. Slow progress, but I have some more clues to follow up on….

Here’s Kampington by an Oast House (just to prove he really did go to Kent):


Time to move on and head slowly West in the general direction of Cornwall….

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