Visit the house at Ightham Mote

The courtyard, with Victorian dog kennel

As you journey through the house, you travel through 700 years of history. Ightham Mote is not a 'show home' for one period in time, but a living 'blog' highlighting the changing fashion and needs of its owners.

The house is a 'style icon' in its own right, rather than merely a follower of fashion. Each successive owner evidently in love with its charm, has allowed the old to mingle with the new.

" Ightham Mote is like an island in time. When you cross the moat and enter its venerable walls, you feel like you leave behind the fears and fads of a modern world. "
- Dr Ian Mortimer, author of the Time Travellers history series

Time Travel

If you stand in the middle of the courtyard, you can trace the different building phases of the house. Originally built with just one range, and an out building, Richard Haute and his son remodelled the house into a courtyard house during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Can you spot the pattern on the courtyard? If you look carefully, you will see the cobbles have been laid out in a pattern.

 

Hoping for a royal visit

Richard Clement was an owner with connections, working in the court of Henry VIII. Wanting to show everyone who visited who his powerful employer was, he displayed symbols of the king throughout the house.

It was probably just as well that King Henry VIII never visited here (certainly after 1533) otherwise Richard Clement may have had a sore head. If you look at the stained glass in the Great Hall, or the magnificent painted ceiling in the New Chapel, you will spot a major problem...Catherine of Aragon.

 

You either love it, or hate it

When you look in the Drawing Room, you'll be confronted by an enormous fireplace surround. Taking up almost one wall, the fireplace was the pride and joy of Dame Dorothy Selby in 1612.

With family emblems, a variety of styles and even a series of eyes which follow you around the room, the fireplace was a pick'n'mix from a design book. The ceiling even had to be raised for it to fit in.

 

When gentlemen get caught short

When Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson bought the house in 1890, he set about turning it into a Victorian Gentleman's ideal home. As well as the repairs and alterations, he added central heating and a bathroom.

As the sale catalogue suggested, he also turned the carpenter's workshops into a Billiard Room. In the corner of the room you will see a door leading to the Mote... well I guess if the game is that exciting or the political discussions that riveting, it must have been too far to go to the bathroom.

 

The American saviour

The last owner of the house, Charles Henry Robinson, added his own twist to some of the rooms. Both his bedroom and library have been decorated in the 1950s New England style. The bedroom wall mirror, with its eagle adornment, is another reminder of his American roots.

In 1985 he left Ightham Mote and its contents to the National Trust in his will. Because of his generosity, he saved the house for you to enjoy.

 

 

Please note:

For conservation reasons, parts of the house are closed during the winter months (November - February). Please call ahead to check what's open before setting out if there is something in particular you are hoping to see. For opening times, please click here.