TQ5364 : Lullingstone Castle from the Gatehouse

taken 15 years ago, near to Eynsford, Kent, Great Britain

Lullingstone Castle from the Gatehouse
Lullingstone Castle from the Gatehouse
The gatehouse at Lullingstone Castle was built in 1497 and is believed to be one of the first buildings to be built of red-brick in Britain. Through the entrance is the "castle", a magnificent manor house dating from the same time. However, the later Queen Anne front conceals the older part of the house. To the left on the lawn is the older St Botholp's Church. Built in Norman times and sometimes referred to as "The Church on the Lawn". The church is still in use and is open to the public. It was built mainly of flint and remains from the Roman villa. The red bricks visible at the top of the walls were added in the early 18th Century. The church has many interesting things to see including some of the oldest stained glass in the country. Behind the church is a walled garden. This was originally a herb garden designed by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde and has recently been converted to "The World Garden".
An estate at Lullingstone is recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) although the name is believed to have earlier Saxon origins.
According to "The Heraldic Notices of Canterbury Cathedral; with Genealogical and Topographical Notes", by Thomas Willement, published in 1827, "Sir John Peche bought Lullingstone in 1361, and the castle and honours were held by that family until the time of Henry VIII". The castle mentioned in this book may have been what we now know was Shoreham Castle, situated less than a mile upstream, but still part of what was then the Lullingstone estate. The current manor house and gateway were built by one of Peche's descendants, also called Sir John Peche. The latter John was a man of great reputation and became Sherriff of Kent and Lord Deputy of Calais. He was friends with Henry VII and later Henry VIII. Both kings often visited and would joist with John on the lawn. When John died his sister Elizabeth inherited the manor, she was married to John Hart, hence a new surname for the family. Again, the manor passed through descendants of the Hart family and eventually in 1738 to Anne, daughter of Sir Percyval Hart and sole heir. Anne is believed to have been named after Queen Anne who was a family friend and often visited. The house and grounds still contain reminders of these visits - the Queen Anne bedroom and the Queen Anne boathouse on the lake.
Here is an earlier love story (or two) about Anne Hart from Historic-Kent.
"A rather odd little story is told of his daughter Anne. It relates how, on the night of the celebration of her betrothal to Sir Thomas Dyke of Horeham, Sussex, she slipped away to her bedroom where she made a rope of knotted sheets and climbed down into the arms of a young naval officer called Bluet, who was waiting for her in a boat in the moat.
Together they ran away and were married. The jilted Sir Thomas swore he would never marry anyone else and, indeed, he did not. When Bluet died nine years later his widow found the faithful Sir Thomas still waiting for her and they married."
It was Anne Hart's marriage to Sir Thomas Dyke which formed the roots to the current family name and it was also Thomas who bestowed the name Lullingstone Castle on the manor house.
At the time of this photo the castle is in the hands of Guy Hart-Dyke (died 2018) and his wife Sarah. It means that the manor has stayed in the ownership of the Hart-Dyke family and their ancestors for almost 650 years, and this makes them one of the oldest families in the world to have continually lived in the same house.
Guy & Sarah's son Tom hit the news in March 2000 when he and his companion Paul Winder were taken hostage by rebels whilst searching for rare orchids in the Panamanian jungle. They were held captive for nine months. During this time Tom came up with the idea of the World Garden of plants.
To look at the manor house and the grounds it's easy to believe a very wealthy family must live here. However, in 2006 BBC2 showed an earlier recorded series of documentaries about the family, the castle and Tom's idea of a "World Garden" as a means of creating enough income to keep the castle in the family. In another series "Return to Lullingstone" (televised in 2007), the BBC came back to see how things were progressing. The garden opened to the public in July 2005 and in the same year won the Guild of UK Travel Writers Tourism Award for best new tourist attraction in the UK.
This wasn't the only time the family had to come up with a business adventure to keep the castle in the family. In the 1930s the family were almost crippled by inheritance tax, so Zoe Hart-Dyke decided to import silk-worms from China and start a silk farm. It was the UK's only commercial producer and turned out some 20 lbs of raw silk per week. The silk was used in garments for many royal occasions including Queen Elizabeth II's wedding dress (1947) and her mother's coronation robe (1937). However, when used in Lady Diana Spencer's wedding dress the farm had re-located to Dorset. During the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the BBC had a side story where they went to Lullingstone and interviewed Guy. Kate's dress was the first in the modern era where the silk was not produced in the UK - all others had their roots at Lullingstone.
Lullingstone Castle also holds a place in "Lawn Tennis" history. In 1875, Sir William Hart-Dyke and a group of the games' enthusiasts got together here to experiment on the lawn and debate how the game should be played. They decided the size of the court and where the lines should be placed. They drew up the original rules of what is now the modern game. It was only two years later when the first Wimbledon championship took place.
The castle is on the Darent Valley Path and the London Green Belt Way.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Sean Davis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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TQ5364, 144 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 19 September, 2006   (more nearby)
Saturday, 4 April, 2020
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Paths  Sport, Leisure  Rivers, Streams, Drainage  Housing, Dwellings  Public buildings and spaces  Park and Public Gardens  Country estates  People, Events 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 53005 64385 [1m precision]
WGS84: 51:21.4762N 0:11.7672E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 52929 64411
View Direction
East-southeast (about 112 degrees)
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Image Type (about): cross grid 
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