Thursday, September 28, 2017

Beautiful Batemans

Seeing all my recent posts you'd think we spend all our time out and about visiting places of interest and having a jolly time but this year has been so devoid of joy and good news that these few visits have been extra special and very precious. We certainly aren't out of the woods yet with Mike's health issues so any happy days are treasured.

Our visit to Batemans was another such day. We drive past there so many times on our way out to other places and one day Mike remarked that we hadn't visited for a long time so perhaps that should be remedied; and so we did.

Warning this post contains more than 90 photos so is not for the faint-hearted!

Batemans, near Burwash, is a beautiful 17th century sandstone house and was the home of Rudyard Kipling from 1902 until his death in 1936. The day we decided to visit was absolutely perfect in that it was sunny but not too hot. The house doesn't open until 11am but the gardens are open from 10am so we planned it so that we arrived in time for coffee and cake (you may have noticed this is a theme with us!) followed by a walk across the Estate to burn off some calories.

There's a choice of 3 walks. We chose the one which gave the best views and was about 2.5 miles

We sat outside in the mellow sunshine and enjoyed our treat

The tall plants are Brussels sprouts and you can just make out the tiny sprouts forming along the main stalk

This was a formal area with fruit trees in the grass and clipped box hedges containing a mixture of flowers and vegetables - you can see the wasp catcher hanging from the tree in the foreground.

This sweet young robin came to join us and shared some of our crumbs

You can tell he's a youngster as his breast is orange rather than red and his plumage is speckled

Next we wandered around the vegetable plot - theses are rhubarb 'forcers' (excluding the light produces sweeter stems) but can equally be used for chicory

The peppery leaves and flowers of nasturtiums are often used in salads

Beautiful bright rosehips on this rosa rugosa

The branches of the fruit trees in this area were smothered in magnificent lichens

This Tagetes (possibly 'striped marvel') looked stunning en masse.

Mike fell in love with this stunning Amaranthus (aka 'Love-lies-bleeding'). Not only is it beautiful to look at but you can eat the seeds and leaves. I quite like the seeds and they are a useful source of protein for us vegetarians.

This pretty Helichrysum bracteatum reminded me that I haven't grown it for a few years.

Aka 'strawflowers', so-called because of their papery petals, they dry easily and are lovely for dried flower arrangements.

I rarely grow Dahlias (earwig and slug fodder plus lots of staking!) but I do admire some of their flowers.

A last look back before we explored another area

Apologies for the poor quality photo with sunspots but I love the promise of gateways - you never know what you're going to find when you walk through them.

In this case we discovered Naked Ladies or Meadow Saffron! These are Colchicums, an autumn-flowering (cormous) perennial, and they send their flowers up ahead of the leaves, hence their nickname.

This long fruit tunnel took us through an archway towards the house

There was much more to explore before we went inside

More Colchicums - so delicate.

It's a beautiful house from every angle.

The last of the formal areas as we headed off for our walk around the Estate.

What a wonderful example of recycling! This clever carving was made by a chainsaw carver named  Steve Andrews and was carved out of the tree stump of an old willow tree that had to be cut down last year.

Mr Kipling watches over the pond. It certainly makes a change from just turning a felled tree into woodchips.

A last look back then we were into the wilder areas.

As we crossed over the stream we could see lots of chickens scratching in a clearing in the distance (not visible here, sorry).

As we headed towards the old Mill there was a lot of squawking coming from somewhere nearby.

As we crossed another little bridge we discovered who was making all the noise......

This little sweetheart!

She stopped briefly to say hello before heading off to do chicken business.

Inside the mill all was quiet this time. The first time we visited it was still working but there have been all sorts of issues over the last few years and it has been shut down pending further restoration work. You can read more about it here. I used to buy my bread flour from there when we first moved into the area as stone ground flour is so much better.

Here are a few shots from inside:

Then it was time to venture into the wilder areas and across the fields. We'd worn our walking boots especially but hadn't taken poles. Thankfully it was too hilly and we managed to scramble up many inclines without too much huffing and puffing.

The route was a mixture of fields and woodland.

I love that they'd cut out a section of this fallen tree so that people didn't have to step over it!

As we returned towards the house we went back to the car to change out of our boots as they were rather muddy. Before we ventured inside Mike headed off to look at the 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 and I went for a mooch around the plant centre just in case there was anything interesting but there wasn't.

We spotted the family's hand-carved initials on the stone doorpost. This lead to a panelled and beamed room and I was delighted to find I could take photos without the flash.

There's a bell pull by the front door but I couldn't snap it 'cos there were too many people milling around. You can see a photo of it here. It was very dear to Kipling as it hung outside the house of Edward Burne-Jones (he was a great collector of his paintings).

Throughout the house there are many different objets and paintings of interest including Burne-Jones and Whistler. There is a full inventory of items here. The first room we entered was the hall.  member, Mrs Kipling would scrutinise visitors from her office window above the entrance before they were allowed past the front door! 

 According to a family story, it was an Indian custom that if this little fish was pointing towards the lounge (as above) then guests were welcome but if it pointed the other way (towards the door) then it might be time to leave!

I loved the tooled leatherwork on the chair backs

Sorry this one is out of focus but I've included it as the bottom figure is Ganesha and I have a soft spot for him.

There were so many depictions of scenes from The Jungle Book throughout the house.

Part of a fire surround.

There were lots of information screens throughout the  house plus there were Stewards in most of them too.

Ralph Fiennes has the perfect voice to read them.

That's the very table at which he wrote so many wonderful stories.

There were books everywhere, as you'd expect.

There were lots of glass cases with interesting objets.

A small bathroom area. I love those blue and white tiles.

On the way down a little staircase towards the kitchen I spotted this little felt mouse peeping out of the panelled wall. When I mentioned to other people they hadn't spotted it but I bet all the children would have seen it though.

More pretty tiles (very William Morris).

On the way past the kitchen there were several paintings by Emma Martin on display and they were rather intriguing and quirky. Here are 3:

Study of a tree stump at Rackham Wood



We couldn't see the bedrooms as they were short of volunteers to man them on that day so the last room we saw was the Dining Room, famous for the cordoba leather wall hanging which was indeed magnificent.

I loved the chunky frame around this tiny picture.

Then it was time to head off home

All in all a grand day out.