Kent

Ightham Mote, Kent

Ightham Mote is one of the best-preserved Medieval manor houses in the country. Set within a secluded valley in the Kentish countryside, it’s traced by a glassy moat and surrounded by 546 acres of dog-friendly grounds, farmland and woodland that feature gardens, lakes, springs, glades, natural children’s play areas and more. Home to the 700-year-old historic house itself, onsite activities, a café and shop that are all open to the public, it provides a full day out that’ll appeal to the history seekers, romantic explorers and country wanderers alike. 

 

An exterior view of Ightham Mote, one of the best-preserved Medieval manor houses in the UK

One of the most inviting historic houses in Kent, Ightham Mote will appeal to all generations. Built from Kentish ragstone and great Wealden oaks, its attractive timber-clad frame has an almost fairy-tale quality, enhanced by the silky surface of the moat that surrounds it in a protective shield. A once-cherished family home now maintained and preserved by the National Trust, the house has been the residence of knights and extended members of the Royal family and exudes history from every corner. 

Today, you can spend your time exploring the house and learning about its many secrets and stories, as well as exploring the picturesque gardens and grounds. From its 16th and 17th Century furnishings and decorations inside to its manicured lawns and natural play areas outside, there’s plenty to uncover.

Architecture 

Ightham Mote is one of the oldest and best-preserved small Medieval manor houses in England with its original structure dating back to the 1300s. Though it’s not clear for sure who its original builder was, the earliest recorded owner is Sir Thomas Cawne in the mid-1300s. Over the following centuries, a series of renovations and additions were carried out to the exteriors in the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries, though these were mostly sympathetically undertaken to harmonize with the Medieval origins of Ightham. Even the doghouse was built to be in keeping with the rest of the house. That said, the interiors feature a much more eclectic expression of taste, with each resident embracing various fashions and trends, including a Jacobean staircase and 18th Century hand-painted Chinese wallpaper.

Music at the Mote  

Music has long echoed through the rooms and hallways of Ightham Mote and over the centuries, it has played host to many musicians, singers and composers. Something that still plays an important role today, music is very much woven into the fabric of the house and its significance is currently shared through a series of displays at Ightham Mote – exploring music as a historical, cultural and social phenomena. Carrying on the tradition, music events are also held at the house throughout the year as part of an eclectic line-up, so it’s worth keeping an eye on what’s coming up to see if you can time your visit with a live performance. 

Timber-clad buildings at Ightham Mote in Kent

Walks at Ightham Mote

The Ightham Mote estate covers 546 acres within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Beyond its picturesque dog-friendly gardens and grounds, it comprises a huge amount of farmland and woodland which provide the perfect setting for lots of walks, many of which branch out to neighbouring beauty spots. If you’d like to enjoy a short wander with your family or four-legged friend, there are also three waymarked trails around the estate that range from 1 mile to 2.5 miles in length and are all equally as inviting. Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of habitats and wildlife species, including everything from the small, delicate petals of seasonal flowers to the elusive silhouettes of sika deer.

Children’s Natural Play Area

The extensive gardens and grounds of Ightham Mote are a fantastic playground for children and provide a wealth of multi-sensory discovery. There’s even a list of things to do before you’re 11 ¾ at the estate and a special children’s garden explorer map. That said, the estate’s natural play area is always a particular hit with youngsters and offers a great space for younger visitors to let off steam. Among the games and activities on offer, your little ones can look forward to playing with wooden dens, balance beams, chimes, willow tunnels, stepping-stones, fairy toadstools, bridges, water and more. The only request is that the estate’s natural environment is respected and protected so that it can be continued to be enjoyed by visitors and wildlife alike.

Café and Shop

Once you have burnt off your energy and are ready to refuel, then you can head over to Ightham Mote's café and reward yourself with tasty homemade treats, light lunches and hot or cold drinks. If you’re visiting with your dog, you will also find that the café has a dog-friendly seating area outside and provides water bowls and treats for your pup. Later, you can pop into the Coach House, the estate’s shop, which sells a range of foodie goodies, garden plants, gifts and souvenirs. Much of the proceeds of the shop goes towards preserving Ightham Mote for future generations to come.

Feeling inspired? Have a look at our luxury cottages in Kent here.

Ightham Mote, Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0NT | 01732 810 378 | www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote

The cutting garden at Ightham Mote, a Medieval manor house in Kent

 

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