Sunday, 25 November 2012

Putting the House to Bed – Bateman’s ... Kipling’s House – Part 1 of 2: the background ...


Bateman's from lane

That’s She! The Only She!  Make an honest woman of her – quick’ was how Rudyard Kipling and his wife, Carrie, felt the first time they saw Bateman’s ... then about that ‘good and peaceable place’ ...


... Kipling wrote in November 1902 “Behold us, lawful owners of this grey stone, lichened house – AD 1634 over the door – beamed, panelled, with old oak staircase and all untouched and unfaked.”

AD 1634 over door

Frankly ... it is the most beautiful golden sandstone – and when I visited recently at times the autumnal sun warmed the stone to its light ochre colour ... coming down over the Weald the house stands as a large solid mass of sandstone in the typical English landscape ...


Back of house (right turn brings up
view below)
... the gardens surround it, the old 17th century watermill in the distance – where the Kiplings stayed in early 1914 when the house was properly plumbed (per 1914 days!) - they had had a turbine generator installed in 1902 for electricity in the house.  Talk about mod cons ...

North of house showing Oast

I’d been to visit once before with my uncle – but was very worried about his tottery legs and when there’s a morass of summer visitors we poddled around – and so looking at things was not really an option.


This time I drove down the lane, with no-one around, luxuriating in the glowing gold of the autumn leaves and was able to take in the lay of the land  ...  

Drive entrance - we park other side of
the orchard!

... I was here ‘to put the house to bed’ ... to listen to a talk about how they close the house up for the winter months – a necessary time to allow Bateman’s to rest, and for cleaning, dusting, repairing etc


The house is owned by the National Trust and they have their reference bible: ‘Historic Houses’ Housekeeping Manual’ – however as each year draws on ... new ways of care and cleaning are absorbed by the manager-caretakers – managing change is important.

Orchard, herb garden in distance -
tool shed and tea rooms here

I thought I was there to work,  but had my wires slightly crossed – so instead of getting stuck in and helping out ... we were given a talk, slide show and shown around the rooms ... pointing out various ways of cleaning the items ... then the strawberry sponge cake from the tea room --- that was rather delicious! ... with time for questions ...

View down to mill - to the left is the
formal garden ... see photo above - (too
dark and dreary for me to photograph)

Anyway as is my way, I had my notebook in hand, my iphone camera and the brain working away at questions ...

The Kiplings had bought the old farm house, surrounding buildings, 3 other farms, the mill and 33 acres (130,000 m²) for £9,300.  It might have had no bathroom, no running water upstairs and no electricity, but Kipling loved it.

When they moved in to the house – the 17th century furniture that matched the Jacobean surroundings of the house was removed so they could fill it with their own possessions  ... but the provenance of the original Jacobean furniture was lost to the property.


Kipling had the oriental rugs made specially – presumably from his connections in India and far east ...but they kept one or two pieces, while  the other furniture was ‘new-for-them’ and chosen to complement the 17th C farm house.


One of the rugs
(very dark I know!)
However much of Batemans is exactly as it was after Kipling died (1936) and Carrie (1939) – when it was left to the National Trust.

His study 

Sadly – Kipling and Carrie were exceedingly secretive and each night the servant was instructed to take his jottings, rough pages and unwanted journalings down to the Hall fire and burn them.


Then when Kipling died – Carrie, his wife, and Elsie, their daughter, burnt his diaries and all excess paper ... a great loss for us decades later  ...


They had 12 servants and a number of gardeners ... Carrie apparently ran the house, the three farms and mill and organised the servants and gardeners – leaving Rudyard free to write.
Part of the bookcase in
the study


Seemingly they were good employers ... they had a passage built from the Oast House to connect with the main house, so the servants wouldn’t get wet. 


While Kipling one night out for some air heard some clattering and found  a servant trying to get her bike over the gate – she was straddled in situ ... Kipling said ‘give me the bike’ and helped her over ... she was late back – gates had been locked and the cook was on the prowl ...

Kipling's day bed in
the study

... Kipling said ... ask the cook for a cup of tea and tell her I was talking to you for a while ... and you’ll need warming up from the cool night air - that solved that problem !


The Kiplings had previously lived in America and on a visit to the States in 1899, Rudyard and their daughter Josephine (aged 6) developed pneumonia, from which she eventually died ... they had sailed in February – not the most sensible month to travel the Atlantic!

John, their son born in 1897, was encouraged to go to join up by his father ... but failed a number of times – he had very poor eyesight – Kipling however determined he should go and fight in WW1 and it was arranged via his friend, Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British Army.

War Memorial including
John Kipling's name  in
Burwash village

John was sent in 1916 into battle in a reinforcement contingent – two days later he was dead.  Kipling felt enormous pain ... and wrote “If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied” ...


John’s bedroom at Bateman’s was kept as it was and some of his possessions remain there ... apparently to help assuage his grief over the death of his son.

 Kipling read the novels of Jane Austen aloud to his wife and remaining child, Elsie, born in 1896.

Mullioned windows at Bateman's

Elsie died childless in 1976, and bequeathed her copyrights to the National Trust, which takes us through to the present day for the care and maintenance of Bateman’s - to follow in the next post.

Part 2 shortly ...


I’ll be illustrating both posts mainly with my photos – possibly too dark, but the NT keep the blinds drawn etc to keep the light out and protect the contents, while the house itself is oak panelled throughout ... making it very dark.  Obviously we’re not allowed to use flash cameras ... fortunately I was allowed to use my camera.  And it was a gloomy November day!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

55 comments:

Sherry Ellis said...

What a gorgeous mansion!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What an amazing place! Glad you got the full tour.

Mike Goad said...

Interesting. Tragic, though, that notes and diaries were destroyed.

Botanist said...

What a beautiful house. It's things like this that I miss most about moving away from Britain - this deep connection with history.

Bob Scotney said...

An inspiring piece, Hilary. I look forward to Part 2. Your photos have brought the house to life.

D.G. Hudson said...

Can't wait for Part 2, Hilary. Enjoyed this. A shame, that they felt they had to burn his writings, but everyone should have a private life, and a right to conceal it.

Skeletons were kept in the closets in those days, but today, they'd be aired on the web.

MorningAJ said...

I went to Bateman's years ago and loved it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sherry - compared to many it is relatively small .. but it is exquisite.

@ Alex - I was very lucky ..

@ Mike - I know .. his two children's deaths and then that constant demand for secrecy .. they had their reasons I guess.

@ Ian - that's what I found living in South Africa .. just away from history, culture, tradition - something the heart needs I found. Exactly as you confirm ...

@ Bob - many thanks .. taken in rooms that were way too dark - but just a pleasure to be there and look around ..

@ DG - many thanks .. it is sad his papers etc were destroyed, at least we have his books ... ah ah you have to see Part 2 for 'skeletons' in the cupboard!!

@ Anne - it is a beautiful house - I can't wait to have a look round in the summer .. I popped in earlier and they had a crown laid out in flowers in the orchard .. but it was over by the time I got there ... mid September ...

Thanks everyone - lovely to see you .. cheers Hilary

Janie Junebug said...

Oh, how beautiful. I saw a show on Masterpiece Theater about Kipling being all gung-ho regarding the war and then suffering so horribly when his own son died. I think it was called "My Boy, Jack." Harry Potter, whose real name doesn't matter because he'll always be Harry Potter, played Jack. Kim Catrall (hope I spelled that correctly) played Carrie. She looked amusingly tall and buxom next to young Harry. Now I know of another place I want to visit. We once drove near the Kipling's house in Vermont but didn't get to see it. What a sad history it has.

Love,
Janie

L.G.Smith said...

What a great tour. I'm a big fan of Kipling's. Such a shame about his papers being burned.

Thanks for taking such great photos of the place for us.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary,

Impressive house, but such sad stories. I remember touring the "cottages" in Newport, RI. Those folks might have tons of money, but they weren't immune to the trials and tribulations of life.

Fascinating post as usual, my blogger friend.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Julia Hones said...

What a lovely visit! Thanks for sharing.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What an interesting post! The house is gorgeous, and your description of it brings it to life. It's a shame about so much of Kipling's writings being burned. I'll be looking forward to part two.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janie - his son's death must have been devastating in the circumstances and he did, as you mention, write a poem called "My Boy Jack" .. apparently about a death at sea ... eg the tar: Jack.

I haven't seen the film .. and know who you're talking about when you mention 'Harry Potter' and with 'Kim Cattrell' ... Carrie's brother's house and set up in Vermont would be very interesting to see ... thanks for the added info - I might get there one day.

@ Luanne - so pleased you enjoyed the tour .. It is sad about his papers .. at least the Kiplings were able to complete their own wishes ...

@ Susan - the house isn't enormous, but it is lovely to see it sitting in the landscape.

We're all human aren't we and as you point out - we're all subject to whatever life throws at us ..

Thanks so much for your thumbs up ..

@ Julia - many thanks

@ Susan - the gardens are magnificent too - I'll go back in drier and warmer weather! Delighted to read you'll be here for part 2 ..

Thanks so much - have good last week's of November! Boxing Day in a month!?! Cheers Hilary

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

That would have been a lot of money in those times. Rudyard wasn't doing too badly then was he? They are beautiful grounds.
Duncan In Kuantan

Laura Eno said...

What a beautiful, beautiful house! I simply must move to England...do you think they'd let me live there? LOL!
You've done a wonderful job of bringing this history alive and I look forward to part 2.
How sad that all of the papers were destroyed. Ah, well, writers are an eccentric lot, aren't we?

walk2write said...

Your photos turned out very well, Ms. Hilary. If there is a little darkness, it only adds to the mystery of the place. Since there is no record of the time the Kiplings lived there, one can imagine that the home longs to tell its story.

Mr. Kipling has long been one of my favorite authors. His stories never fail to bring out the rawness of the places and people he portrays in them. "The Man Who Would Be King" is an excellent case in point.

Jo said...

Never been there Hilary, but you bring it to life in your blog. That was one hell of a lot of money they paid for the place. I wonder what it would sell for today if it came on the market. Looks a delightful spot and wish I had been there. Friends bought a similar house in Kent and spent a lot of time on it. Reminded me of it very much when I saw your pictures.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I really loved reading this. Makes me want to fulfill my lifelong goal of visiting Britain! I love your blog by the way :)

Jay Noel said...

WOW! That mansion/castle is stunning. Always wanted to go over the pond and visit.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Duncan .. I tried to find out how much - but can't easily! He was successful already by the time he settled in Burwash ..

@ Laura - well I'd have you around .. so I think the answer would be yes!! Oh - but if you're eccentric .. then I need to renegotiate the deal?! But it'd be lovely to see you here sometime. It would be interesting to see how he worked ... so it is sad...

@ W2W - many thanks .. it was a gloomy day and small windows already partly sheltered by blinds ... I think it's the story before the Kiplings we'd like to have continuance of ...

W2W - you've certainly opened my mind to other aspects of The Man Who Would Be King - I must now do some more checking ... he wrote that story before 1888 - so in his India days ...

@ Jo - I was trying to find out the value now .. but can't be bothered to look any more! It's a wonderful part of the world .. though very tucked away with lots of grounds to wander around in .. and rivers to fish from ...

@ Keith - good to see you ... and we're here and always open to receiving visitors .. many thanks for the follow and the comment ..

@ Jay - it's small!! Though I'd hate to say that - compared to many houses ... it's not a very big house - but set in the rural English countryside is quite delightful. Well we're here for a visit ...

Cheers everyone - if you're thinking of visiting wait for it to dry up - we're a shrinking island at the moment - water, water everywhere and lots of floods!! Thanks for your comments - Hilary

Lynn said...

What a lovely visit this was! My favorite Kipling story is The Elephant's Child. I still remember the first time I heard it - a beloved grade school teacher read it to us aloud.

jabblog said...

What an interesting post. Kipling never really got over the death of his son. I remember seeing a television play about him a few years ago.

cleemckenzie said...

It looks like a perfect place to stroll with notepad in hand--unhurried and quiet. Beautiful.

I was so touched by the bits of personal history about Kipling you included. They made me anxious to have a visit to Bateman.

Morgan said...

Oh my goodness... such magic! I wish I lived there... sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong place and time period. I love this.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Such a beautiful home. His life sounds similar to Mark Twain who also experienced much sadness in his lifetime.

Munir said...

The mansion of this house is gorgeous. I excitedly expressed my surprise that the rugs in Rudyard Kipling's house came from India and my daughter remarked that he wrote "The jungle book. " I feel so sad that my mind is not able to distinguish various eras of writers and sometimes even the books they wrote. My advise to young people is that they don't postpone reading. I stopped after college and waited until my kids are all grown up to get back to reading and that was a mistake.

Ciara said...

I love touring mansions. It looks amazing. Thanks for sharing, it was almost like being on tour with you. :)

prufrocksdilemma said...

How wonderful you were able to make a repeat visit and bring us back all this interesting news and photographs to boot! Too bad, indeed, that he and his family burned his diaries. Interesting the choices people make, isn't it?

juliet said...

What a fascinating story is held in this house. I was particularly struck by the sad take of Kipling's son, forced to war and killed so soon.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - that must have been wonderful to have The Elephant's Child read out to you in class .. what a great introduction to Kipling.

@ Janice - I missed the play about Kipling and you're right losing two of his children must have been devastating ... yet so many people lost so many in the two World Wars. I hope to catch up at some stage.

@ Lee - next time I'll definitely be more unhurried and quiet ... except there'll be people about!!

The caretakers gave us these snippets - so I quickly jotted them down .. it is a beautiful place and must be so tranquil on an early summer's morning .... well other times too.

@ Morgan - I know how you feel .. when I was in South Africa I felt cut off and needed to be back ... wrong time period - not so sure ... I like my mod cons!!

@ Joylene - I'm sure you're right - and it must affect their writing and thought processes.

@ Munir - good to see you and you're right about reading early .. and it's really up to parents to encourage our children and grandchildren to read. Kipling and his parents lived in India for a while ..

@ Ciara - it's a beautiful house to visit .. and has lovely grounds and the mill house - I'll have to do those next year ...

@ Susan - it's fairly nearby fortunately. I was thinking about his son ... and wondering if that real heartache, probably recorded in his papers, is what made them decide to destroy everything.

@ Juliet - in fact John wanted to go to War .. but his eyesight was a major problem .. and, Kipling, was encouraging to join up somehow. Many young men went to war under age - to join their comrades. Very sad though ...

Thanks so much - lovely to see you all .. cheers Hilary

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

What a beautiful place. So sad that all his diaries had been burnt, I am sure that we have all missed a wealth of information. Looking forward to Part 2.
Have a good week. Diane

Ellie Garratt said...

I was going to ask if it was a National Trust property, as I'm a member. Thank you for the fascinating write up - one for me to visit in the future!

Suze said...

'managing change is important.'

Hil, this statement stood out to me, gold-flecked.

This first half of the story reminds me of (J.D.) Salinger's estate. He, too, was a very secretive talent whose reclusive nature left much to the imagination. Surely as much is more tantalizing than to know the whole story ...

Jannie Funster said...

What a wonderful post!! The cake would make all that cleaning worthwhile.

And your iPhone photos are really quite good, Hilary. Actually, great. you've a good eye for composition.

All closed up for the winter. I bet the mice have lots of fun in the off-season, cavorting and giving the hiemal caretaker a run for his money. :)

Did not realize Kipling was quite so well off.

Did they have flush loos in 1914? Gravity-fed I'm sure.

very nice. i'd like to visit the autumnal golden ochre beauty some day too.

xooxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - it is a lovely place situated in the lee of the Weald - but was there for a purpose originally. I'm sure we've missed lots of private thoughts and perhaps that's a good thing .. sad, I know.

@ Ellie - well if you get up here let me know and we can have a cup of tea somewhere. It'd be great to have your views on the house etc ... have you been to Killerton, just north of Exeter? That's amazing and fascinating too ..

@ Suze - 'managing change is important' will come out a little more in the next post. It's a change in the thought process of the historic building organisations I think - we can't keep it the same, but we can keep the intention going ..

You're right about being tantalised - worse when we're never going to find out ... much supposition going on, even to this day.

@ Jannie - I didn't even work for the cake ... oh yes I did!! I made notes for this post!!

The photos aren't bad - some aren't mine! ... but it's so dark inside ... and if I had had more time .. but I didn't want to lag.

I had to look up hiemal - ok now I know and hope I remember ... actually the cleaning occurs during winter - so all bugs and beasties and dust bunnies are swept up and dealt with, before they re-open. Now the NT wants to keep properties open ... it's a little challenging I think.

Kipling was successful early on ... so had cash.

Re the loos ... elevated cisterns were invented here in the 1880s - so I'm sure they had those ... there was already cold water in the house when they moved in ...

I'd love to show you round one day - preferably in warmer weather when the garden would be in full flower .. but the autumnal golden ochre days would do too ..

Lovely to see you Jannie - xoxoxo

Delighted to read you're all enjoying this post ... I remember cistern loos from my youth! Cheers Hilary

Julie said...

What a wonderful tour, I could almost feel as if I was there while reading. I'm looking forward to Part 2!

I have to laugh as when I first saw your title I read Bateman as Batman and I couldn't imagine what on earth Batman could have to do with Kipling LOL. I already know I need new glasses and this just confirms it! :D

Southpaw said...

Wow, what a life. How great he had a passage built to keep his servants form getting wet. Wow. And so secretive. I didn't know.

Elise Fallson said...

What a beautiful place! Thank you for the virtual tour. (: I would love to go and visit someday, but how sad they burnt his diaries and papers after his death! What a loss.

Theresa Milstein said...

Electricity in homes in 1902? I didn't know that started so early. Guess I never thought about it. I know it was more common by the 20s.

I look forward to learning more about this place in part 2.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie - delighted you could feel your way round ... a few books for the librarian in you.

Gosh I do that often enough .. then realise the post is about something completely different - no Batman this time! I think it's expectation .. rather than lack of seeing .. ie not concentrating properly either - me too: I definitely fall into this category!

@ Holly - they were obviously kindly souls - I think I can understand the secrecy .. like you just wish they hadn't been so.

@ Elise - it's gorgeous - let me know when you come over!! We can see some of his work .. but diaries are diaries are private - but a loss.

@ Theresa - they had turbine generators ... these were commercially available from the 1880s - but presumably only for the fairly wealthy ...

Puts history in perspective when I write these posts - that tested me ..

Cheers - you're testing me with this post! Hilary

Ann Best said...

Hi, dear friend. Just want you to know I highlighted you today in my return-to-blogging post. And Jen and I are SAVORING the postcards that came yesterday. LOVE them! I especially like "Daphne du Maurier's CORNWALL." I read her decades ago, and am thinking I'd like to read her again. So much to read, so much to do!

Will get back to you soon via email!!! I'm trying to recover from lack of sleep caused by distress. Didn't have a great day yesterday, but those postcards came, and well, there you are. Just when I needed them!! BTW, today I'm doing great. That's life...ups and downs...I so value your positive personality. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

and cheers, cheers, and cheers....

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Ann .. delighted you got the letter and the postcards - and so pleased I put in the du Maurier's Cornwall ...

Just checked the post isn't up yet - but will be soon I expect.

Oh dear - sorry about the news .. but life is like that - as you realise. And am glad I can give you a lift from afar ...

Great news - thanks so much for your thoughts ... appreciate this ..

Cheers from a rain sodden England .. Hilary

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

What a wondrous place to visit and your article with the fabulous photos was an informative delight to read.

I may have mentioned this before. However, did you know that Rudyard Kipling was named after Rudyard Lake? His parents visited there many a summer and loved it so much, they named their son Rudyard. Rudyard Lake is but a gentle two mile stroll along an abandoned railway track, away from my house.

Cheers to you, Hilary.

Gary

Donna Hole said...

Such a tragedy that the kids did not carry on the family name and tradition. But it is a gorgeous mansion. And your story of their lives make it a home, not just a national monument.

......dhole

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gary .. thanks so much - glad it distracted you briefly. I remembered about his name - I must mention it when I write about the garden and pond, and mill! Your walk to the lake sounds lovely ... the abandoned railways are useful for strolls - we've a few here ... our is called the 'Cuckoo Trail'!!

@ Donna - some families' sadly lineages end and this is what happened here. That's what they've tried to do .. leave the place as it was when the Kiplings lived there.

Great to see you both - cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

Great to learn more about a wonderful author. I remember reading the Just So Stories over and over again. I hadn't realised how much tragedy there was in the family though, and I wonder what was lost when the notes were burned...

Talli Roland said...

How fascinating! I must put this on my list to visit.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick - it's funny I don't remember reading them ... but am sure we had them as both sides of the family had Indian connections - travel or work.

Each night's work .. it would be good to know how he worked for those Kipling fundis out there ..

@ Talli - it's a glorious place to walk around .. hope you get here at some stage - with little one in tow!

Cheers to you both .. Hilary

Kittie Howard said...

What a fabulous post! I adore history like this, the photos! You made so much come alive. I could hear the walls talking. Ironically, I came across an application for a historical preservation society. Was thinking I'd join, only $15.00. Now I know I will. Thanks!

And thank you for your beautiful comment. I read what you wrote several times, the right words at the right time. *sending you hugs*

Sara said...

I love your house tours. I would enjoy very much to visit some of these historic places with you because I'm sure you tell me more interesting facts about them than I'd ever find in a book.

I never realized they closed the historical houses in the winter. It makes sense after everyone trooping through them, the house need repairs and time to rest.

Thanks for this interesting post. I'm on the read Part 2.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kitty - thank you so much - I'd love to hear those walls talking but am delighted that you felt I had. That's wonderful .. I sincerely hope you'll enjoy the history you'll come across - I love what I find out.

So pleased ... the sadness you must feel for your family - so devastating and so sad for them: yet new life is there. Reading the others comments brings life home and how devastating it can be .. and life can be without the baby. Terrible - too difficult to contemplate ..

@ Sara - great to see you .. I'd just natter on! Well we'd have fun ... I'm quite quizzy and always asking questions ... I pick bits of information up from 'places' and seem to be able to retain it - always ready to spout!

The closing up is becoming a grey area - some of the larger houses don't and can probably manage the cleaning, repairing etc as there are enough staff, or they can close a room off ... but funds are tight - so they're looking to open more often. Each property has to maintain itself under the NT auspices ..

Thanks Kitty and Sara - lovely comments ... cheers for now Hilary

Empty Nest Insider said...

I read this backwards, and still enjoyed it. I still can't believe that you were able to take these wonderful photos with such little light.
Julie

Deniz Bevan said...

Love these two posts, Hilary! I hadn't thought to look up Kipling's houses, but now I definitely want to visit, especially to see the library and the model ships.
Love the idea of a National Trust Manual on Housekeeping!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie - I gave the photos a go .. they're not brilliant but they do show some aspects. Thanks v much - glad you enjoyed the post.

@ Deniz - if you get down do email me! It's a lovely place ... and the ships are special - reminded me of my uncle .. he loved his model ships.

I know I'd quite like to get the NT Manual of Housekeeping - would be an interesting reference book ...

Cheers to you both - Hilary