Kent Historic Mansions and Gardens
The vast number of aristocratic families inhabiting Kent over the centuries has left a rich legacy in terms of charmingly beautiful properties, decorated and maintained to very high standard, many of which are now open to the public. They are a display of traditional architectural styles as well as originality and tend to preserve extremely old art and memorabilia. Moreover, as they were owned and in some cases are still owned by influential families, most are linked to significant historical events.
Set in the centre of Rochester, this house was named as such after King Charles II spent the night there before the monarchy was officially restored in England. The mansion itself resulted from the skilful merger of two existing constructions, either in the 16th or 17th century, a flawless process in terms of styling. The garden spreads across three quarters of an acre and is structured into many parts, some comprising exotic plants in artistically designed arrangements. The property was strategically used by its royalist owners to accommodate Charles II, after having been occupied by one of Cromwell's colonels for some time. The photo shows the front elevation of the house; with traditional features such as sash windows and traditional brickwork (such features can be found throughout Kent).
Hall Place and Gardens
Built in 1537 at Bexley, on the banks of the River Cray, and currently managed by Bexley Heritage trust, this commendably preserved construction is set on no less than 65 hectares of land, its numerous gardens being renowned for their exceptional aesthetic qualities. The house encompasses original 16th century parts such as the minstrel's gallery, Tudor hall and a few other quarters, as well as later additions made during the 17th century by its next owner. As it is open to visitors, it also accommodates a number of museum collections and contemporary art displays.
With history of almost seven centuries, this moated mansion has been owned by a considerable number of notable characters, always belonging to the upper layer of society. Many royal courtiers, knights and aristocrats have benefitted from its splendid grounds and made repeated improvements to the mansion. Unlike most dwellings, it includes a medieval Great Hall, a crypt, two solars and a chapel. It is now owned by the English Heritage Trust and extensive work has been carried out for its repair and preservation.
Penshurst Place and Gardens
Built as early as 1341 for the mayor of London, in the village of Penshurst, and exceptionally preserved over the centuries, this mansion has passed through the hands of many aristocratic families, including the Sidney family, which held it for hundreds of years. Every stage of its passing through history left a distinctive mark on it and a multitude of items exemplifying past ways of life are on display there. Visitors can observe armour and art collections, medieval halls, porcelain objects, family memorabilia and even an epochal toy museum.
Godinton House and Gardens
One of the most renowned mansions in Kent, Godinton house belonged to the Toke family for almost five centuries, since its construction in 1440. It is mostly known for its architecture, which is of Jacobean style and its very long yew hedge. The Jacobean mansion was built from brick around a medieval hall and is surrounded by expansive gardens, displaying an impressive floral diversity. Besides its architectural features, it also preserves a plethora of paintings and various art collections gathered by its owners overtime.
Dating from the 16th century, this property underwent a series of major transformations as it changed ownership over the years. Among its most famous occupants were Henry VIII and Sir Winston Churchill, the latter having a greater impact on the structure of the mansion through architectural modifications. It is now looked after by the National Trust and is relevant to the way Sir Winston Churchill and his wife used to live when owning it. In fact it also comprises a garden studio where some of his paintings are on display.
Famous for its remarkable dimensions and the vastness of its grounds, consisting of a 4 square kilometre deer park, Knole house was built in the 15th century, over no less than thirty years, between 1456 and 1486. It has since been owned by a number of noble families and was recently used in a few cinematographic productions for that reason. It encompasses as many as 365 rooms and 52 staircases, which were decorated with intricate carvings. It accommodates an impressive display of epochal furniture, tapestries and textiles, as well as paintings signed by internationally renowned artists.
Built during the reign of Charles II for two wealthy farmers, Owletts House is set on vast grounds and preserves its period character. As a distinctive feature, the year 1684 was incorporated into the ceiling which can be seen from the staircase, to mark the completion of the house's interior. Also, it was later home to well-known architect Sir Herbert Baker, who was born there in 1862. Prior to his birth, his parents brought significant additions to the house and replaced some of its features, yet most remain the same as they were in previous centuries.
Located in the village of Otham, this medieval house was built inn 1480 by a wealthy farmer. Initially, it was a very simple construction, archetypal for its times, with no chimney and no dividing walls. A chimney was then added in later years. It underwent a major restoration and extension process in the early 20th century, yet preserving its character and charm, which is evident at first glance, through its beamed exterior. Its surrounding grounds include an orchard, a garden and meadows.
Built in 1681 by Sir Nicholas Crispe, this mansion of commendable proportions and luxurious decoration is an etalon of aristocratic lavishness. Many items of fine art are displayed there, as well as tapestries and period furniture. The house itself was built in Georgian style, which was merely emerging at the time. Its gardens, stretching over no less than 10 acres, comprise woodland, a lake, a gazebo and natural landscapes.