Friday 17 November 2017

Visiting Ightham Mote, Kent in the Autumn - National trust

Ightham Mote header

During October school half-term we headed off to Kent to visit a new National Trust site. I've heard of Ightham Mote before but in the NT handbook, it didn't look as if it would be very big so I had avoided it in favour or larger properties. It was only when I saw some pictures on a friends Instagram that my interest was peaked again and she confirmed that it is a joy to visit.

Ightham Mote house

The Moated House
Ightham Mote is one of those properties that is great for families and also for just adults. It is a truly stunning 14th-century moated manor house and over the last 700 years, it has changed a lot and been lived in by Medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians. The house has many rooms open for display and you can see lots of interesting sights, such as the Grade 1 listed dog kennel, the crypt, the Great Hall and private residences of Charles Henry Robinson, who gave the house to the National trust in 1985. My favourite area was definitely the private church inside and I enjoyed seeing how the delicate wood ceiling had been conserved and restored.

In fact, the whole house has gone through conservation that lasted around 15 years and cost about £10 million. It was considered to be of great significance and Ightham Mote has appeared on a couple of TV programmes. You can also find out more about the conservation work in the Exhibition at the Visitor Reception if that's something you are interested in.

The restored wood ceiling in the chapel

Tranquil Gardens
As well as the gorgeous moated house there are plenty of beautiful and tranquil gardens surrounding the house for you to have a walkthrough, sit in or if you are a child then perhaps a play in the natural play park with a stream for paddling and splashing. I love that there are loads of NT deckchairs all over the lawn area and you can sit and enjoy the view of the house from the other side of the pleasure gardens.

Explore the Estate
As well as the immediate gardens the estate stretched much further (546 acres to be precise) and there are three marked walkways that you can enjoy or even go off route and just explore. About 30% of the estate is woodland and I bet the bluebells are an amazing sight in spring. The rest of the land is farmland and perfect for a family walk. We didn't head off into the estate to explore but we did drive the wrong way into the estate so we drove through a lot of the land and I can confirm it is a wonderful example of beautiful Kentish countryside.

The Mote Cafe
On the day we visited it was fairly busy in the cafe and we had a good 20-minute wait in the queue before being served at about 1.30pm but we were able to find a table and the wait wasn't unpleasant. There's a really good amount of space both inside and outside the cafe and it was all pretty much as I'd expect of an NT cafe.

The cakes and scones were homemade and looked particularly good, I tried a brownie with my girls and it was delicious and a good size for £2.25. We all had jacket potatoes which came with a bit of salad and coleslaw and were £4.95 with cheese topping and £5.95 with tuna mayonnaise. We really enjoyed these.

The drinks were all good as well, it was £2.90 for a large Latte, £1.80 for a pot of tea and £1.25 for a kids juice carton. As always there were jugs of cold water on the side for you to help yourself to.

The shop is two-story and has a great range of items from pocket money trinkets and toys for the kids to gorgeous garden ornaments and cashmere scarves. There is something for every pocket and it is a pleasure to look around.

For Children
On the day we were there the children were offered a treasure hunt style quiz for within the house and there were two versions of this to suit different ages and abilities, there is no cost for this and the kids got a sticker upon completion.

As it was Halloween there was also a spiders web hunt out in the grounds and this was 50p per child for the trail map. The kids all looked as if they were having great fun spotting the webs and there were some fab handmade examples.

I also mentioned the natural park which looked great for kids but my 10-year-old girls decided to pass as it was muddy on the day we visited and they were both in pretty clothes. There is a stream that runs through the park and kids and adults alike were wading in this in their wellies having lots of fun. I can imagine this area is super popular in the warmer weather.

Like with all NT sites, there are loads of fabulous examples of flowers and plant life if you are a keen photographer.

Useful Information
Overall I felt Ightham Moat is a wonderful example of an NT site and quite different to many I have visited before.
  • It had loads of good, accessible parking and it costs £2 a day if you are not an NT member, which I think is very reasonable. 
  • The wider estate is open dusk to dawn and the main site and gardens open at 10am and closes at 3.30pm in the Winter and 5pm in the Summer. the house opens an hour later than the site and the last tour is half an hour before site closing time. Check out the times for the day you want to visit on the website
  • Pricing is different winter to summer as well. It is £15 for a family to visit in Winter and £30 in Sumner, so that is quite a big difference
  • The address is Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN15 0NT. Do have a look on the NT website for vehicle directions unless you want your Sat Nav to send you down the tiniest roads like ours did!
Why not pin this post for later?

Ightham Mote pin

Check out all our other National Trust reviews over here. 

Disclosure: We were provided with free passes to access this National trust site so that we could review it. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Thanks to my husband for a few of the photos included.

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