Have you ever imagined what your dream home might look like? I’ve always turned to the traditional – something from a Jane Austen novel; Think of hidden corners, shelves full of books, walled gardens, and wildflowers. Well, I don’t have to imagine that anymore because since visiting Batemans National Trust in East Sussex I’ve found the right deal …
This dreamy Jacobean house nestled in the Sussex Weald was once the home of the author Rudyard Kipling – or my children, the man who made it The jungle Book and Baloo the bear. And after a lovely warm day exploring this wonderful property, it’s easy to see why the author and his wife, Caroline, fell in love with it instantly.
The story of Batemans National Trust
Born in India, Joseph Rudyard Kipling was one of the most famous British writers of his time, bringing Bateman’s to the height of his fame in 1902. After the early death of his daughter Josephine a few years earlier, he wanted to live in a quiet and peaceful environment and brought the property and the surrounding acres with him, including the watermill, which he restored and still operates today.
The house is almost the same as it was in its day, and visitors can see much of Kipling’s belongings and memorabilia, including his immaculate Rolls Royce, which the boys were impressed with. Meanwhile, discover many other historical details on Kipling’s Pet Cemetery and even on the original stone that marked his grave in Westminster Abbey.
Exploring the gardens
While the house is a fine example of 17th century architecture, with soft honey-colored brickwork, impressive fireplaces, and oak beams, it is Bateman’s Gardens that truly touch the soul. Especially on a beautiful summer day when the dappled sunlight falls over the lawn and beyond.
Kipling created his gardens so that his children could play and his family and friends could enjoy. And the National Trust has done its best to maintain that mantra. Instead of feeling like decorative restricted areas, our kids loved running around the trees and playing hide and seek. We watched families picnicking in the gardens and dog owners taking leisurely walks.
We all loved finding the perfect semicircle seating in a private alcove at the foot of the magnificent lily pond filled with hundreds of carp. Nearby, the rose garden is impressive – and was paid for with the money that Kipling received for winning the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The walled garden, vegetable garden, and mulberry garden are full of multi-colored swaths that are home to vivid insects and more, while the orchards are full of fruit trees. But maybe the children loved the wild garden the most, hunted dragonflies and ran through tall grass in meadows and over wooden bridges. A look at the surrounding landscape is also worthwhile.
Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem The glory of the garden is the perfect example of how much he loved his gardens and after spending a few hours at Bateman’s National Trust it has surely won our hearts too.
Do other things
Since our first visit here was during the lockdown measures (pre-booked and timed entry and a one-way system – More information here) The house itself was closed to visitors which was a real shame as I would have loved to see Kipling’s famous study where he produced some of his finest work.
Seasonal events and activities were suspended elsewhere, but (luckily) the Mulberry Cafe was still open for takeout and we were able to enjoy a delicious cream tea outside in the sunshine at one of the many tables available.
After feeling somewhat cooped up in our own home for a few weeks, we all thought this was a trip worth taking. There may not be a play area for children, but our children really loved the freedom to run around in a natural, safe environment. They even took up the challenge of finding the crocodile in the pond …
I enjoyed finding a bench that overlooked the house and grounds and sitting quietly for a while, enjoying Bateman’s lingering charm. It was such a peaceful environment that I wished I had a good book to lose myself in too. There’s always the next time …
Bateman’s Lane, Burwash, East Sussex, TN19 7DS: Tickets: Adults £ 8, Children £ 4, Families £ 20
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