Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Ightham Mote And Rye

OK. The First of the Holiday Posts...

Ightham Mote (pronouced itum- M and I spent most of the week betting 5p on who had the correct pronunciation, only to learn when we got home that neither of us had) is a place I have long wanted to visit, so it was top of our list during our stay in Kent last week.

The boys grumbled when we gave them the Happy News, but as that's normal language for teenagers we ignored them and went anyway. The grumbles were stoppered for a while by ice cream and then everyone was happy :-)

Ightham has an interesting, chequered and multi-layered history. Building work began in 1330, and it is a hotch-potch house with tudor bits and medieval bits all squashed together to create the romantic manor house that is today seated sedately inside its moat.  There are fish in the moat, and we said if we lived there we'd have been jumping in every morning out of an upstairs window for a swim.

The house was left to the National Trust in 1985, and in 1988 they embarked on a fifteen year ten-million-pound restoration project, which involved the removal, examination and restoration of pretty much every brick, stone and beam. It looked good as new when we visited.

In its time the house has been owned by Medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians. It has a handful for Ghost Stories, the most significant relates to a persistent chill in one of the bedrooms. During the 1870s, the owners grew tired of the chill in the Tower Bedroom and paid a builder to find the source of the cold. He took down a wall and discovered the skeleton of a woman seated on a chair behind it. She was said to be Dame Dorothy Selby, the woman who warned her cousin not to go to Parliament on 5th November 1605 because she'd learnt of the Gunpowder Plot. The letter was intercepted and the plotters caught, and Dorothy was said to have been buried alive behind the wall at Ightham by the plotters friends. 
HOWEVER, that story is generally held to be nonsense as the date of her death is given in records as March 1641. Instead, the woman is more likely to be a servant of Sir Thomas Browne who owned Ightham in 1555. He is said to have murdered one of his servants and hidden her body inside the walls of the house. An alternative version of this is that Sir Tom's priest was having an affair with her and after he committed suicide Sir Tom bricked up the girl. Nasty either way.

The local Bishop performed an exorcism to attempt to convey rest on the poor woman, whoever she was, but apparently the cold in that room remains to this day....


There are a few other unpleasant aspects of Ightham. The crypt is below the water level of the moat so prisoners kept there would be disposed of by opening a sluice gate. A trapdoor was added during the Wars of the Roses in the floor of a tower room and suspicious visitors were dropped into a dark hole and left there to starve. The room above the main gate is said to be haunted by the ghost of one of them. I suppose any house of this age is bound to attract these kinds of gruesome tales. There was no sign of any of that when we visited, just a beautiful and fascinating house that is well worth a look if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods....

Glorious


That's quite some front entrance way, don't you think?

Hotch-Potch of building styles and ages

You know I am a little obsessed with doorways. There will be more....

Ultra Smart Dog Kennel. What would Teddy and Pops make of this??

Loved this wallpaper with the bird hunting the butterfly. No idea how old it is.


This is the Oubliette






Rye is a small town on the coast with a big history. It has witnessed first-hand some dramatic changes to the coastline. Once it was Rye Next The Sea, and now it is Rye Some Small Distance Away From The Sea.

Perched at the head of an embayment in medieval times, it was almost entirely surrounded by the sea and as such was an important member of the Cinque Ports Confederation (a twelfth century series of coastal ports in Kent and Sussex formed for military and trade purposes). Its roots are Saxon and it is described as one of the best preserved medieval towns in England.


Violent storms in the 13th century (particularly in 1250 and 1287) cut the town off from the sea, destroyed Old Winchelsea down the coast (from which M's ancestors hail) and changed the course of the River Rother which used to flow to the East of Rye. The sea and river combined in about 1375 to destroy the eastern part of the town. Two years later Rye was sacked and burnt by the French. 

By the 1730s, Rye was at the centre of a huge smuggling operation headed by the notorious and violent Hawkhurst Gang who frequented the Mermaid Tavern on Mermaid Street (which I failed to check out before we visited and therefore have no photos of :-(. It's a cobbled street so will be worth a re-visit). They were eventually rounded up and bumped off in various unpleasant ways, which probably failed to match the inventiveness with which they dispatched their enemies, including some customs men.

We climbed the tower of the Norman St Marys at the top of town which gives you some fantastic views across the town (provided you are skinny enough to squeeze through the tiny passage that gets you to the roof top, including passing the bells which still work...)

Very narrow passageway leading to the bell tower


Bells

Above the bells

View from the top of St Marys looking out to Ypres Tower and across the marshes. All the green area would have been under water in the medieval era with ships docking right next to the town and unloading their goods.

Rye Town
There are lots of cobbled streets in Rye and several ancient buildings....

Old houses and old cobbled streets next to St Mary's Church

Another Old Door ;-)

Tudor house next to the church

More cobbles...

And some more....

Ypres Tower, built in 1249 to defend the town from attack by the French. It's part of Rye Castle.

I'm going to try and rattle through the holiday posts because I want to get back to recording more natural history stuff, so will get on and get them finished in the next couple of days. 

Have a lovely evening all,

CT :-)
 



25 comments:

  1. Thank you for the tour. 2 places I would now like to visit too

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    1. They are worth a trip if you're ever in Kent :-)

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  2. I'm glad I didn't know anything of the horrible history of Ightam when i visited.

    Jean x

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    1. Yes, I only read about it afterwards too :-)

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  3. Beautiful and I love the dog house. It makes you think "who lives in a house like this?" throughout the whole village. No ordinary postie or Tesco's chick could afford those houses could they?

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    1. I rather suspect Rye is a pricey place- beautiful, but pricey :-)

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  4. Such a beautiful town and a great tour CT - thank you! xx

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    1. We loved Rye and decided it was worthy of a repeat visit, minus grumbling teens so we can take our time and explore it and some of the coastline around there more peacefully! xx

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  5. I may have an Oubliette built, and put Alf in it... hoorah for the wonderful NT.
    Leanne xx

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    1. Great idea- I might join you and have one installed here :-) xx

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  6. When I visited Ightham many years ago a lot of it was under wraps for restoration. We said we'd go back when it was complete. Sounds like it's time, beautiful place.

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    1. Definitely time...it was fabulous and didn't disappoint (and I had very high expectations!) x

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  7. Really fascinating, (and a bit gruesome) There are so many places in our own country to visit, don't know why we keep going abroad. Thanks for sharing x

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    1. I agree- we've done UK based holidays for the last eight years and visited some fantastic places, both buildings, coatsline and countryside. x

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    2. And that was coastline, not coatsline...what a ninny! x

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  8. Wow! A visit to Hastings Battleaxe country! but I've never been to Ightam Mote. Do you find you never visit the places on your own doorstep?

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    1. I thought of you when we were there and wondered if you'd been, living so close. You're right thought- it very easy to overlook the places on your doorstep.
      Just read your latest post- my, what a busy time! Sounded fab though. That mariner looks quite well built, doesn't he?! x

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  9. Ightham looks a great place to visit - the gruesome/ghost information was interesting! Love the views from the church tower - have always wanted to visit Rye. We are so lucky in this country with so many beautiful and interesting places to visit :)

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    1. You're so right- endless amounts of lovely places to see. I am very happy exploring the UK and you generally don't have to travel hours on end to get places either (apart from mway queues) :-)

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  10. What a wonderful time you must have had, so many beautiful places for you to visit! I have been to Ightham Mote once and thought it amazingly beautiful and a wonderful place to visit, I am glad that you enjoyed it and had fun guessing how to pronounce it! xx

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    1. The pronunciation occupied us for most of the week.... :-) xx

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  11. I'm sure I've been here before and to one of the castles in your other holiday post, visiting for a few days after a wedding, somewhere along that coastline they serve squirrel pie in a pub.....still not quite as gruesome as your wonderful tales.

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    1. Not sure even I would want to eat Squirrel pie :-)

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  12. I can't keep up with your posts!! - just want to say your holiday photos are great and this place is my favourite. I don't know Kent very well although did visit Leeds Castle once. However I've been to Dover many a time and of course never visited the castle there! Just seen the dull hoverport or ferry port.... ;-) Looks like you had a great time.

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    1. I am being especially prolific this week because I have a cold which is slowing me down, so I'm more computer-and-house-bound than normal :-)
      Ightham is a fabulous place, but I've enjoyed all the old houses/ castles/ cathedrals we visited. We really are spoilt for choice in the UK x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x