Bateman’s: a hidden gem of English countryside
The 300 acres of beautiful countryside that surround Bateman’s and its garden are the hidden gems of this property. Less frequently visited than the house and garden, they provide visitors with an opportunity to escape the crowds and slip into a slice of beautiful, historic High Wealden landscape.
A landscape to love
Medieval in character and timeless in atmosphere, the estate retains a peaceful, secluded feel and stands almost exactly as it was at the time of Rudyard Kipling's death in 1936. A mixture of small fields, hedgerows, woodland and streams, it is at the peak of its beauty during the summer months.
" God gave all men all earth to love, But, since our hearts are small, Ordained for each one spot should prove Beloved over all...."
Much of the estate is made up of fields that are farmed by long-standing tenants who produce high quality beef from a herd of Limousin cattle that can be found roaming the estate during the summer. Some fields are grazed from spring-time, while others are allowed to grow and are then cut for silage later in the summer. These silage fields can be particularly beautiful as they provide a perfect habitat for wildflowers and the bees and butterflies that are attracted to them.
A picturesque river
The picturesque river Dudwell runs through this wonderfully charming valley on its way to join the Rother at Etchingham. An opportunity to sit for a few minutes on the riverbank is one that should not be missed while you are visiting. Look out for kingfishers nesting and feeding along the river just west of the garden and house. If you are very lucky you may see one of the otters that have been spotted here recently.
A wealth of trees
The most frequently occuring tree on the estate is the English Oak, which Kipling called 'Sussex weed' because of the ease with which it grows on the heavy, acidic, clay soil. Along the riverbank you'll also see lots of alder, a tree that copes well with damp conditions. Elsewhere, ash, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn and the occasional beech can be found.
Traces of old industry
You'll come across a series of interesting pits dotted over the estate of varying degrees which hold water throughout the year. Most of the pits are surrounded by small areas of woodland where you might be able to spot a range of wildflowers and other wildlife if you look carefully. These pits are relics from a major part of the history of the area, when the iron industry was dominant. Dug out by hand, these pits are where iron ore was extracted from at least the early 16th to the late 18th century. the ore was then smelted at Socknersh Furnace, south- east of Burwash. The smelted ore was then made into a variety of iron products at Burwash Forge which was located next to the Dudwell, about three-quarters of a mile south-east of Bateman's itself.
By Kevan Gibbons, Ranger