Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thames Tributary Darent - Lullingstone

Thames Tributary Darent
The Darent continues to flow northwards

Post to the east Eynsford Station
Post to the south Castle Farm


Lullingstone Castle Grounds
St Botolph's church. The Parish church on the castle lawn. It is Norman but rebuilt in 16th and 17th. It has the appearance of a private chapel but it is the remains of the parish church of a medieval village. It is a small flint building with a 14th gable and a 16th chapel. There is a Flemish rood screen from 1500 carved with Tudor roses and peach stones. Stained glass which includes a crucifixion on a vine. Monument to Queen Mary’s nurse; tomb of the Harts with a skeleton an angel and a spade. Many monuments and mementos of the Peche family.
Churchyard. There are many military graves including a local man who died in the 20th troubles in Ulster. Grave of Rt.Hon Sir William Hart Dyke MP for Dartford and Disraeli’s Secretary for Ireland.
Lullingstone Hospital. Founded c.1508 as an almshouse.
Jousting ground – this was in the grounds of the Tudor castle
Tudor gatehouse. This was one of a pair. Red brick much restored. Decorative panels. Perhaps the first major building entirely of brick
Bailey bridge. Beside the car park spanning the river, replacing another brought down in the 1968 flood.
Stream – a stream winds through the trees passing beneath the road and into a lake. The banks are partially brick-lined, and it is an artificial channel leading to the one-time moat of Lullingstone Castle.

Lullingstone Park
Lullingstone Park. Its six hundred and ninety acres were once a deer park and it is now a public golf course run by Sevenoaks District Council. Ancient woodland, oaks, etc. medieval. In the mid-18th a timber fence was erected to keep the deer in the Park, and it is five miles around the perimeter. There were 400 fallow deer in 1890s. Oaks still stand exactly like those sketched by Samuel Palmer. On the southern slopes, beneath the beeches, edible snails can be found, perhaps brought here by the Romans. In 1931 Oliver Hart Dyke because of death duties sold 34 acres to Kemp Town Brewery, Brighton later purchased by KCC. But the brewery intended it for an airport. It was bought by Kent County Council in 1939 under the Green Belt legislation and they wanted to buy the entire site together with the Ministry of Works. A stone man was found by Kent Archaeologists while a sewer was being built by Thames Water Authority. The woodland is notable for rare lichens and beetles, has impressive pollarded oaks, hornbeam and ash.
Home Wood actively managed sweet chestnut coppice. There are extensive areas of 'unimproved' chalk grassland particularly on the steeper slopes. spring/summer vetches, cowslip, pyramidal orchid, bee orchid; birds - kingfisher, heron, woodpeckers, warblers; dragonflies and damselfly
Oval shaped lake and river flows into it via a weir. The inner gatehouse was demolished and the moat filled was in around 1763, but the oval lake existed beside the house. Gravel was discovered near by after the Second World War and was extracted here and the pit merged with the original lake. It is stocked with trout for private angling.
Lullingstone Park Farm with the hop shop. The shop selling the farms aromatic products.
Queen Anne's bathhouse. The Darent slips from the lake over another weir to pass, across from the eastern facade of the Castle, a unique but crumbling flint structure. Remains of a tiny Bath House located over a spring, whose waters were reputed to have medicinal properties, and was originally built for Queen Anne.
Icehouse dating from the 18th century. In a wood overlooking the river. Presumed to be built by the same contractor as at Kevington. Flint walls and three entrances. Central opening in a domed roof.

Lullingstone
Lullingstane parish church. Remains of lost church of St.John the Baptist. had been abandoned in 1432. Ploughing near the church ruins unearthed Roman remains. John Thorpe located the church ruins as "in a field by the roadside on the right from Eynsford to Lullingstone, a few rods from the gate into the field and about a quarter mile before the Park gate. It was Saxon built with flints and Roman bricks.
Lullingstone Roman Villa. A tessellated pavement was unearthed by digging of a hole for a deer fence and then ploughing near the church ruins unearthed Roman coins, bricks and instruments. These remains were known in the late 18th. In 1939 the Darent Valley Archaeological Research Group began a field survey but nothing was visible although the riverbanks had Roman bricks, tiles and pottery fragments in them. If other known villas were plotted on a map, there was evidence of a building every two or three miles along the valley, with a gap at Lullingstone. Then a grassy mound near a tree revealed pottery and floor-tile fragments, then traces of a Roman building appeared when the tree fell. Excavation in 1949 found Roman coins and bricks and Saxon buildings which had used Roman bricks. The villa they found was a large timber country house built around 75AD and then rebuilt in flint in the 2nd, abandoned c.200 and re-occupied 50 years later and then burnt down c.400. It had about 30 rooms, a mosaic floor (showing Europa and the bull), heating and wall paintings. The people who lived there were Christians – a chapel, unique in Britain, was built over the cellar and it is the earliest known place of Christian worship in the country. Some of the complex was a tannery. There were also a Roman pagan temple, and burials –a simple circular temple - and a large granary. There was a painting of a water goddess in the well chamber.

Valley road
The road is the bed of a river, which appears in flood years. Last time was 1889 when the river flooded in a torrent stretch to the church from the green was a landway the road at the bottom was called Castle Hill

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