In May 1939 the travel writer HV Morton wrote:
I was boasting to a man at Sevenoaks that I had seen most of Kent's finest houses: Chevening, Penshurts, Hever and Knole.
"But you haven't seen Ightham Mote?" he asked. "You can't be in Kent and fail to see Ightham Mote. If you don't see it, you'll always regret it!"
The house dates to the 1320's and is a lovely moated manor house. The first view as you pass through the visitors centre is glorious..
The house was the subject of extensive renovation by the National Trust since its acquisition in 1989 (£10 million+ according to Wikipedia), The programme ended in 2004. It was also the subject of a Time Team special - and the trust will happily sell you a copy.
The house though was open long before the Trust got their hands on it. Morton visited in 1939 when the house was opened on Friday afternoons and found "quite a small number crowd" waiting.
In 1953 was purchased by the American Charles Henry Robinson who made many urgent repairs and left it to the Trust.
Anyway at 10 am the tea room/cafe didn't seem ready and so I went for a wander around the garden.
Alas most of the garden was closed for as it was water logged :(
So I headed back to the tea room and had a cup of tea and.....
it was nice and warm and pretty good.
This sign of opening times is a bit incongruous isn't it......
Anyway nicely filled I head to look around the house
The dog house is huge and is grade 1 protected and dates to the 1890's (not Tudor as Morton states).
Alas only a few of the rooms were open and the house is still in winter conservation mode. My thanks to the volunteer who pointed out the witch marks on a fire place. These were done to stop witches entering the house through the chimney. He told me that at Knole they've found marks dating to 1623 when James I visited the house.
It is a truly lovely spot and I will have to pop back later in the season when the garden and house are fully open..... and when the sun is out!