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PICTURESQUE
OLD HOUSES












I









p



ICTURESQUE
OLD HOUSES



BEING THE IMPRESSIONS
OF A WANDERER OFF
THE BEATEN TRACK



By ALLAN FEA, Author of
" Secret Chambers and Hiding-
Places" " The Flight of the
King," "King Monmouth" etc.^etc.



WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
BY THE AUTHOR



London ....
S. H. BOUSFIELD & CO., LD.

Norfolk House, Norfolk Street, W.C.



PRINTED BY

HA2ELL, WATSON AND VINKT, LD.,
LONDON AND AYLESBURY.



DEDICATED

BY THE GRACIOUS PERMISSION
OF HER ROYAL HIGHNESS TO

PRINCESS LOUISE

DUCHESS OF ARGYLL



2056099



PREFACE

IN the hope that these impressions I am here
putting together may prove of some little amuse-
ment to those who, like myself, find a delight in
wandering off the beaten track and exploring nooks
and corners of our old country, I may explain at
the outset that I do not intend to confine myself to
any particular method in the selection of the various
localities I have attempted to describe. Those who
seek for guide-book accuracy or real topographical
knowledge must not refer to these pages ; the title
will foreshadow that this is merely a record of
sundry impressions collected (mainly for my own
amusement) from casual notes and sketches made at
various times. I trust that those who dip into
these pages will not put me down as an egotist,
for, I regret to say, the letter " I " figures far too
frequently to please me. Had it been possible to



vii



Vlll



Preface



carry out my idea in any other way, I certainly should
have preferred it ; but this was impracticable. There-
fore, I hope the reader who finds the personal part
of the impressions intrusive, will skip when the letter
" I " is too much to the fore.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

BATEMANS Frontispiece

GATEWAY, DAVINGTON COURT Facing page 4

OLD HOUSE, OARE 4

" THE CALICO " 6

"THE CALICO" 6

INTERIOR OF " THE CALICO " 8

CHAMPION COURT 8

OLD HOUSE, EASTLING 10

SHARSTED COURT 10

OLD HOUSE, THROWLEY 12

SEED FARM 12

KINGSDOWN ''.'-... . . 13

OLD HOUSE, LINSTED Facing page 16

OLD HOUSE, LINSTED 16

FANCY DRESS ON A MONUMENT, LINSTED CHURCH . . . .17

OLD HOUSE NEAR LINSTED Facing page 18

OLD HOUSE NEAR LINSTED 18

HOLLINGBOURNE MANOR HOUSE ,, 2O

OLD HOUSE, HOLLINGBOURNE ..... 20

" BELL INN," HOLLINGBOURNE 22

GODFREY HOUSE, HOLLINGBOURNE .... ,, 22

THE " HOOK AND HATCHET," HUCKING 24

OLD HOUSE NEAR BREDGAR ...... Facing page 28

BEXON MANOR HOUSE 28

HEART'S DELIGHT, BORDEN .' 30

TUNSTALL . . . . r. , * ' Facing page 30

GROVE END FARM 30

OLD FARM NEAR RODMERSHAM 31

OLD HOUSE, LENHAM . . ..' . .' . Facing page 32

OLD HOUSE NEAR TEYNHAM .. . .' . '.' . 32

ix



x List of Illustrations

" CHARITY HOUSE," LENHAM Facing page 34

OLD HOUSE, HARRIETSHAM 34

OLD HOUSE, LEEDS 36

OLD HOUSE, LEEDS ....... 36

OLD HOUSE, BROM FIELD ...... ,, 38

OLD HOUSE, LANGLEY 38

CHARING PALACE ........ ,, 40

CHARING ; 40

SPEAKING TRUMPET, CHARING ..... 40

OLD HOUSE NEAR ASHFORD 40

OLD HOUSE, CHARING 41

ACTON FARM ......... Facing page 42

WICKENS ,, 42

BOUGHTON MALHERBE 44

OLD HOUSE, CHARING 44

OLD HOUSE, HEADCORN 47

OLD HOUSE, HEADCORN 48

TOWN HOUSE, IGHTHAM Fadifr p^g e 54

ROLLESTON FARM 54

QUINTAIN AT OFFHAM 55

BIDDENDEN . . . Facing page 58

OLD HOUSE, BIDDENDEN n 58

PUMP FARM 60

OLD HOUSE NEAR BIDDENDEN ..... Facing page 60

"THE MONKEY HOUSE" 60

SMARDEN MANOR HOUSE M i( 6 2

SMARDEN MANOR HOUSE 62

OLD HOUSE, SMARDEN M 5 2

OLD HOUSE, SMARDEN 62

TANNERS 64

HOLMSHURST 6 4

PORCH, BATEMANS ......".-.... 65

BOLEBROOK Facing page 66

BOLEBROOK ......... . fj ?j 55

SACKVILLE COLLEGE ;. . 5g

BRAMBLETYE HOUSE . . ' 5g

OLD HOUSE, EAST GRINSTEAD -

> 7

WAKEHURST .... -

it 72

OLD HOUSE, WEST HOATHLY ..... 2



List of Illustrations



XI



EAST MASCALLS ....

BROADHURST . . .

EAST MASCALLS ^. . -. .

DITCHLING . . . .

ALBOURN .....

STOCKS, HARTING ....

PORCH HOUSE, CHIDDINGSTONE .
GATEWAY, LORDINGTON HOUSE
POUNDS BRIDGE . . .' ..
HEVER CASTLE . . . .

CRITTENDEN . . . .

BLOCKFIELD . . ....

PUTTENDEN

BLOCKFIELD

GREAT TANGLEY

OSBROOK

BONNETS . . . .''-.
OLD HOUSE, ALFOLD .
SHALFORD STOCKS, NEAR GUILDFORD

BRAMSHILL

STOCKS, ODIHAM . ., .

WOODCOTE . ' .

OCKWELLS . .

OCKWELLS . . . . .

PORCH, OCKWELLS ....

OCKWELLS

STOCKS, WHITE WALTHAM . .
MAPLEDURHAM MILL . . . ,.-
NORTHMOOR RECTORY HOUSE
OLD DOVECOTE, NORTHMOOR . ,,
STOCKS, STANTON HARCOURT . .
STOCKS, NINFIELD . .
GAUNT HOUSE

WHIPPING-POST, STONDON MASSEY
ASTHALL MANOR HOUSE

BURFORD

BURFORD PRIORY . . : . . ,

BURFORD PRIORY . .

THE WILMOT PEW, ADDERBURY .



Facing page



Facing page



Facing page



Facing page



74
74
76

78
79
88
90

92
94
94
96
96
96
98
98
98
100

IOO

104

no
116



118
126
126

132
135
136
136
138
138
138
140

142



xii List of Illustrations

ROCHMTER'S BED Facing page 144

" CROWN INN," SHIPTON-UNDER-WYCHWOOD ... MM *44

WATER EATON MANOR HOUSE 146

WATER EATON MANOR HOUSE 146

FRITWELL MANOR HOUSE 146

CANONS ASHBY n u I 5 2

WROXTON ABBEY ,. *5 2

BOARSTALL TOWER 164

STOCKS, ALDBURY 17

"WHITE HORSE INN," HOCKLIFFE. .... ,, 17

HOUGHTON CONQUEST . . . . . ,, 180

ASTON BURY . . . ... . . . ., 180

QUEEN Hoo . . .... . ... ,, 186

HELMETS AT HAREFIELD ...... ,, ,,198

FRESCO AT "THE SAVOY" ,, 198

CEDAR HOUSE, HILLINGDON ...... ,, 202

SWAKELEYS ,, 2O2

OLD HOUSE, NEWPORT 208

NELL GWYN'S HOUSE, NEWPORT ...... 208

LITTLE HADHAM HALL 208

SPAINS HALL ......... 208

WHIPPING-POST, WALTHAM CROSS .... ,,210

PILLORY, WALTHAM CROSS . . .211

LITTLE LEIGHS PRIORY . . . . . . . Facing pagg 212

MOYNS . . . . . . . . . . ,,212

LAYER MARNEY . . 214

BECKINGTON 216

EASTBURY HOUSE .... 216



Picturesque Old Houses



CHAPTER I

NOWADAYS everybody, more or less, is a bit of
an antiquary, so long as he or she does not
get bored to death with dates and dry-as-dust gene-
alogies. Even the bean-feaster (or fiend-beaster, as I
believe he is termed if specially noisy) has a lingering
affection for ruins or historic trees that is to say,
if they are made palatable by the proximity of an
inn, whether ancient or modern. Certainly there is an
innate love of the past in our composition, although
perhaps we all do not care to acknowledge it. When
an old landmark disappears, who does not feel a pang
of regret at parting with something which linked us
with the past ? Seldom an old house is threatened
with demolition but there is some protest, more
perhaps from the old associations than from any parti-
cular architectural merit the building may have. A

4






2 Picturesque Old Houses

great writer has likened an old house to a human
heart, with a life of its own, full of sad and sweet
reminiscences. Truly these reminiscences may be
buried in obscurity, but even if they are, it is a
pleasure to speculate upon the past associations, grave
and gay.

Without further introduction, let us set out in
search of picturesque old houses. We will take our
first ramble in a county for which most of us have
a warm corner in our hearts viz., the Garden of
England. Whether or not the fond remembrance
may be associated with a happy holiday at Margate,
or like Mr. Tuggs we may have lost our heart at
Ramsgate, or perchance a Whitstable Native may
have touched a tender chord anyway, take them all
round, few counties are so generally popular as Kent.
So accessible from town, one would naturally suppose
every nook and corner was familiar ground and had
been done to death by the tourist ; but it is not so,
by any means. To find a genuine bit of old England,
one cannot do better than explore certain portions of
north-east Kent.

Comparatively few of the countless thousands who
yearly flock to the popular seaside resorts on the
coast of this county have broken the journey at the



Picturesque Old Houses 3

quaint old town of Faversham. I propose to alight
here and wend my way in the direction of Rolling-
bourne, where at present no railway supervenes to
destroy the impression of a thoroughly old-world
country.

The irregular outline of the overhanging gables
of the main street and market square of Faversham
gives one a typical picture of an ancient town.
Many of the houses are, indeed, much older than a
first glance would lead one to suppose. Not a few
of them are re-cased Gothic buildings. In a rather
squalid part of the town there is an old shop front,
with a low roof supported by an open arcade of
massive oak pillars, grimy and generally dilapidated,
still a very good example of a shop of the Middle
Ages. One broad street, paved with cobbles, leading
nowhere in particular, except towards the river, has
many interesting " bits " to delight the artist, and I
could state an instance where one of the fraternity
became so enamoured of some old Dutch-looking
roofs by the waterside that he totally forgot the fact
that he had left his wife in another remote part
of the town, seeking for him in vain for upwards of
an hour. I shall presently give an instance of a
similar separation, by which a happy pair were



4 Picturesque Old Houses

brought to the most desperate straits, for the drama
happened at Lenham upon the occasion of my visit.

Faversham Church has been much spoiled by
restorations, but there are some interesting brasses,
monuments, mural paintings, and two very early
Gothic chests.

About a mile outside the town of Faversham
stands the much-restored Davington Priory, a famous
old building, once ruinous, but now ruined by having
had too much money expended upon it. The
remains of the old Court House, to my mind, are
far more interesting or, rather, I should say the re-
mains of the outbuildings of Davington Court, for the
house itself was demolished in the days of Charles II.
In the old wall of the kitchen garden is a very
imposing Jacobean entrance, with the original folding
oak-panelled gates, having the motto above, " Deus
nobis h<ec ot'ia fecit" and the date 1624. A long,
narrow enclosure at the base of a steep sloping
bank is by tradition said to have been the tilting-
ground in the good old days of chivalry. It still
goes by the name of " The Knights' Field."
During the repairs to the Priory about fifty years
ago, a curious helmet was discovered built into
the wall, which, judging from the date of the




OLD HOUSE, OARE.



Picturesque Old Houses 5

masonry, must have been placed there in Queen
Elizabeth's time.

To the north of Davington is the little village of
Oare, near the mouth of the river Swale, where are
some quaint old houses worth notice. At a creek,
called the " Stool " in old records, the last of the
crowned Stuarts was brought ashore after his capture
by the Kentish fishermen. 1 I merely mention this to
keep alive the spot as a historical landmark. In
hunting up some of these places thus associated some
time ago, I found local tradition had with time
expanded certain facts. The ferryman at Elmley
insisted that King James landed at that spot " with
all his fleet " ! Argument was useless. I departed
worsted.

But I have diverged somewhat out of my proposed
course. The road to Hollingbourne runs in a south-
westerly direction, branching out of the old London
and Canterbury highway at historical Ospringe. The
general appearance of this place, immortalised by
Froissart and other chroniclers, leaves an impression
of ugliness and squalor. But there are some pictur-
esque houses for all that ; a corner house, in particular,
by the now dry " waterway " (a half-timber house,
1 Vide Secret Chambers and Hiding- Places.



6 Picturesque Old Houses

having inside an elaborate moulded ceiling). A little
beyond Ospringe, walking westwards, we turn to the
left, following the boundary of the pretty grounds
which surround the residence of the Rural Dean of
Faversham. We now enter a somewhat desolate and
monotonous country, for the most part void of
hedges, with occasional woods, hop-gardens, gravel-
pits, and turnip-fields.

At a distance of about three and a half miles from
our starting-point we find a signpost bearing the
cheerful intelligence, "To Faversham Workhouse."
The weary traveller making his way to the north-
east must be considerably comforted by this promise
of a haven of rest, and pilgrims to Canterbury who
come from the Weald of Kent ought to inwardly
offer up thanks to the local authorities, whoever they
may be, for resuscitating their flagging spirits.

Onwards for another mile and a half, past an
incongruous collection of traction-engines and trucks,
we enter the village of Newnham, with its church
of cold grey flint and a Swiss-looking spire, a
row of uninteresting tenements, the village smithy,
a sleepy-looking inn, and last, but not least, an old
house which goes by the name of "The Calico."
The name probably originated from a sign which




THE CALICO.




'THE CALICO.



Picturesque Old Houses 7

it may have borne at the time when calico printing
was first introduced into this country, in the early
part of the eighteenth century ; or perhaps it may
have been derived from the ornamental design worked
upon the pargetting with which a portion of the house
was cased in the year 1710, if we may judge by the
date upon it. The pattern is certainly suggestive of
printed calico, and is both pleasing in colour and
line indeed, an architect of the present day might
do worse than reproduce the design in facsimile upon
the facade of some of our modern houses.

I have seen other cottages with somewhat similar
decoration, but in black and white never in this
pleasing warm red-brick colour. Where the plaster
work has crumbled away may be seen the oak beams
of the original structure. The combination of wood
and plaster, with the cosy casement windows and
a massy porch projecting into the street, shading a
mighty nail-studded oak door, presents altogether a
most charming result. At the back of the house we
find a delightful grouping of gables and chimneys,
the timber beams between the plaster here being
painted black, like some of the old Cheshire houses.
Fine panelled rooms may be seen within ; ceilings
with black oak rafters and elaborate stone Jacobean



8 Picturesque Old Houses

fireplaces, carved upon which are heads encircled by
those uncomfortable ruffs still in vogue in James I.'s
time ; griffins, the fleur-de-lis, and all kinds of strange
embellishments. One of the fireplaces has a good
fireback bearing the Commonwealth date of 1650,
surmounted by a regal crown a curious combination
which looks as if the occupant of those days had the
strength of his own convictions, and was not afraid
to acknowledge his Royalist sympathies. Not many
years since an interesting discovery was made in
the attics : a helmet and double-handed broadsword
were brought to light. These, I understand, have
been removed to Sharsted Court, the seat of the
Delaunes. It is not unlikely other things are yet
to be discovered in this curious old building, for
there are many stories of smuggled goods having
been brought here a couple of generations ago. Little
is known of " The Calico " beyond the fact that a
family of some importance named Hulse lived there
some three centuries ago. They have long since
migrated to other counties, and the name would be
forgotten were it not for a mural tablet in the church
of Newnham.

There is but little to interest us in the church.
It has slight pretensions to Norman and Early




INTERIOR OF "THE CALICO.




CHAMPION COURT.



Picturesque Old Houses 9

Decorated architecture and a good " king-post," but
that is about all. Upon the higher ground above
the village is Champion Court, the old home of the
De Champions, and Sharsted Court. Both are worth
inspection the former for its fourteenth-century pis-
cina in " the chapel " or cellar and the latter for
its pleasing medley of gables, chimneys, and dormer
windows, and a quaint garden with formal clipped yew
hedges. One who has been there in the early summer
would never forget the scent of the roses clustering
over the garden walls, and that of the lime-trees
beyond, or the solemnity of the great beech avenue
known as " Sharsted Walk."

Keeping upon the high ground, we have cherry
orchards on all sides. Tourists going through this
part of Kent in the cherry-picking season will find
the villages absolutely uninhabited. Children, mothers,
fathers, grandparents, are all, so to speak, " up a
tree." If you want the pew opener or the village
clerk to open a church door for you, you must seek
for that personage in a cherry-tree at least, that is
my experience. This depopulation of villages is not
remarkable, however, when we consider the amount
of labour required to pick a good crop. On the
Sharsted estate alone it is by no means out of the



io Picturesque Old Houses

way to send up to London twenty tons of cherries
in a week, and this continues on the average for
about six weeks.

Those light sleepers who have the misfortune to
pass their nights in a village of north-east Kent at
this season of the year that is to say, to retire and
to rise at the ordinary and sensible hours of town
residents will not readily forget their experiences.
At the first dawn of day there are gun reports on
all sides, as if the whole country was in a state of
siege. But this is not the only noise, for it is supple-
mented with a kind of tin-tray arrangement by which
those of too tender an age to use firearms, may earn
both their living and the everlasting hatred of those
who are not inflicted (blessed, perhaps, in this instance)
with stone deafness. Would that the enterprising
American who invented that wonderfully effectual scare-
crow might find his way into Kent ! In explaining
the result of his first experiment, it will be remem-
bered, the Yankee's remark was : " Was it a success ?
Why, yaas, I rather guess it was. One old crow
was so scared that he brought back a grain of corn
he had stolen three days before ! "

There are other memories, however, of the cherry
orchards viz., the result of having permission to eat




OLD HOUSE, EASTLING.




SHARSTED COURT.



Picturesque Old Houses 1 1

of the luscious and indigestible fruit ad lib. I will
not draw a comparison between the experiences of a
bad sailor on a sea voyage, for one grows out of that
as time goes on ; whereas if one perseveres in the
cherry orchards, he will never overcome the ill-effects
that is to say, if he survives. The cherry-pickers, as
a rule, may consume as much fruit as they like at the
outset, for the very good reason that they gain their
experience, and abstain for ever after. But enough
of cherry orchards. Enough is said to be as good as
a feast, and a feast of cherries, as I have explained,
is scarcely good enough to be ventured upon a
second time.

Ere we continue our journey towards Holling-
bourne, we must explore a little to the various points
of the compass, for we are in a centre teeming with
the most charming old houses and churches. At
Eastling, for instance, which lies about a mile to
the south of Newnham, is one of the quaintest old
farmhouses imaginable. The porch, with its char-
acteristic Charles the First windows, is entirely
different from "The Calico," but is equally interest-
ing, and the side of the building faced with red
Sussex tiling would tempt the most exacting artist
to halt and make a sketch indeed, I would



12 Picturesque Old Houses

recommend him to hurry there ere the restorer sets
to work and destroys it.

We might yet go farther afield in this direction
to see other fine old timber houses at Throwley and
Leaveland, or to Badlesmere, away from everywhere,
and where, as a sort of practical joke, sightseers at
Faversham are sent to do penance.

Seed Farm, near Eastling, and more in our direct
way, is another quaint old house, all out of the per-
pendicular and horizontal, leaning in such a way that
it would be no easy matter to speculate upon the
direction in which it would fall if its basement gave
way. Doddington village, the farthest point from the
railway, north and south, probably will soon be brought
in touch with the world by a light railway, but to-day
it is scarcely kept alive by the intermittent visits of
a local carrier crawling between Faversham and Maid-
stone. The " Chequers Inn " recalls one of Prout's
drawings recalls also, I believe, certain smuggling
memories.

To the north is the pretty little village of Kings-
down, endeared to me, I may add, by some of my
earliest memories. The old Court Farm, long since
pulled down, still remains an impression on my
memory, though I can have been no more than three




SEED FARM.



Picturesque Old Houses 13

years old when I slept within its walls ; but the place
is more endeared to me from the fact that my father
used to relate his juvenile recollections of happy days
spent there recollections of the generation which was
then passing away a fairly long link if one considers
the date when those old people were born.




-^



It is strange how some trivial landmarks assume
an importance when they are associated with the doings
of one's father when he was a boy ! A farm where
perhaps a child was hospitably entertained by Farmer
Smith or Jones, leaves so great an impression that the
tradition is handed down from father to son, inso-
much that for ever after such a landmark is looked
upon as a place of vast importance ! Perhaps this is



14 Picturesque Old Houses

merely the result of the reverence one used to have
for one's parents. Some people say that the senti-
ment is as extinct as the dodo ; but I will not go
so far as to accept that. But it is certain that " the
gov'nor " or " the old man " of to-day has to take
a back seat, and is not looked upon with the same
reverence that used to be considered natural or proper.
To the north of Kingsdown is Linsted, the most
antiquated village under the sun, or, as an old villager
once said to me, "It be' ant only ancient, sir, but it's
a bit of antiquity." The houses, the church, the
people, all seem to belong to centuries ago (still, let
it be said in bated breath, there is a School Board
not very far away). But I must pause awhile to
renew the plates of my camera, collect my views, and
perhaps the reader will say judging from the above
digression my thoughts also.









CHAPTER II

THE nearest and the prettiest way from Newnham
to Linsted is through Sharsted Park. Just at
the back of old Calico House there is a steep lane,
with the hedges on either side meeting overhead, and
forming a veritable cloister walk a fairy glade in the
daytime, a pitchy black tunnel at night.

Skirting the mansion and some colossal beech-
trees, and taking a path beneath some sombre firs,
we presently emerge upon a road by one of those
snug and enviable little wooden lodges peculiar to
this part of Kent. A field-path, reached by a stile
on the opposite side of the road, dips down into a
hollow, and again ascends in the direction of a little
church tower, which peeps out among the trees on
the brow of the hill. This is Linsted; and as we
get nearer, the general impression is that of its anti-
quity. It looks like a village left behind in " the
steady march of progress," and long since forgotten.
The church is flanked on one side by an old inn,



1 6 Picturesque Old Houses

and on the other by a remarkably picturesque Gothic
house, which at one time was also a roadside hostelry.

It is astonishing the amount of timber the old
architects and builders lavished upon the less important
houses of the Middle Ages. Little wonder that these
structures stand so well the wear and tear of time.
Some fifty yards away is a tiny timber cottage, so
small that it would be certainly easier for a reasonably
sized man to enter by one of the first-story windows
in preference to the doll's-house entrance porch, which
leans over the road as if it were contemplating a dive
upon some hapless pedestrian.

Over the porch of the inn and also of the door
of a cottage near the village may be seen plaster
medallions representing the profiles of Roman warriors.
They were removed years ago from the ancient seat
of the Lords Teynham. The church is in a sad state
of repair. Here are still those old cumbersome
high-backed Georgian pews unsightly, it is true, but
not uncomfortable, and certainly convenient during
a dreary sermon. The tombs of the Teynham and
Roper families are particularly fine. Upon one of
them are bas-reliefs in alabaster of the sons and
daughters of a worthy knight and his dame a really


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Online LibraryAllan FeaPicturesque old houses; being the impressions of a wanderer off the beaten track → online text (page 1 of 11)