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The house at Ightham Mote

A view through a tunnel to the courtyard at Ightham Mote, with long windows visible on the other side of the courtyard
From the main entrance towards the courtyard | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Although the exterior of the house remained largely unchanged through each successive ownership, when it came to interior decoration, successive generations responded to each new fashion. Inside Ightham Mote you’ll find a Jacobean staircase and chimney pieces, Palladian and Gothic windows, and walls hanging with hand-painted Chinese wallpaper from the 18th century or covered with panelling in the Old English style.

Visiting the house

Walk towards the house via the West Bridge and enter via its ancient door and under the Gate Tower, as knights of old would have done before you. A journey through the house will take you through 700 years of history. Ightham Mote is not a show home for one time period, but a living example of the changing fashion and needs of its owners. Each successive owner, evidently in love with its charm, allowed the old to mingle with the new.

Take a trip through time

Once in the impressive courtyard, centuries of history and personalities stand before you. Half-timbered walls and mullioned windows frame a house full of charm. You’ll also be able to spot the grand Grade I listed Victorian dog kennel, built in 1890 by Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson.

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

The Library

Once inside, take in the library, a gentleman’s study highlighted with 1950’s colourways in gold and grey.

The Great Hall

At the centre of the house stands the Great Hall. Once a place of feasting and celebrating, magical medieval carvings of musicians and performers adorn the walls. Tudor and Stuart family portraits gaze back at you from centuries gone by.

A visitor looking into the Great Hall at Ightham Mote with wooden panelling and a full suit of armour visible
A visitor peers into the Great Hall | © National Trust Images/David Levenson

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. 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.

The Drawing Room

In the Drawing Room, you are 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 that follow you around the room, the fireplace was a pick and mix selection from a design book. The ceiling even had to be raised for it to fit in.

View of the Drawing Room at Ightham Mote with a large fireplace, patterned wallpaper, a piano and many gold chairs.
The Drawing Room at Ightham Mote | © National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The Billiard Room

Crossing back over the courtyard, step inside the Billiard Room, an impressive and atmospheric games room, perfect for the family to relax in. Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson turned the carpenter's workshops into the Billiard Room as part of his renovations and changes. In the corner of the room, you will see a door leading to the moat, probably so gentlemen didn’t have to go too far to go to the bathroom in the middle of an important game.

American roots

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. Mr Robinson's bedroom, with its muted New England colour scheme, is light and airy.

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Discover more at Ightham Mote

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