01 October 2019Report on the visit to Chevening House and Ightham Mote
19 March 2019Walk in the Shadow of the Shard
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02 February 2017Old Bailey visit.
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Report on the visit to Chevening House and Ightham Mote
Tuesday 01 October 2019

Report on the visit to Chevening House and Ightham Mote (NT) Tuesday 1 October 2019

On Tuesday 1st October, some members of the Arts Society Leatherhead visited two delightfully contrasting country houses in Kent.  Ightham Mote is a 14th-century medieval moated manor house, much modified by its various owners and now owned by the National Trust.  After a guided visit there in the morning, and lunch, the group visited Chevening – which had been owned by the Earls of Stanhope and is still in use.

Chevening is a richly furnished 17th-century English Palladian manor house, designed by Inigo Jones.  It was gifted to the nation in 1967 by the last Earl and by convention is now the country residence of the Foreign Secretary.  Members were privileged to be shown around for two and a half hours by Colonel Mathewson OBE, Secretary to the Board of Trustees, on one of only eight such openings this year.

They sat around the conference table, as the Prime Minister and his cabinet had done a mere two weeks before, in the magnificent first floor Tapestry Room to admire the unique collection of early 18th century wall hangings which were woven by Huguenot craftsmen.  In the panelled dining room, they were awed by the achievements – military, diplomatic, scientific, political and social – of the seven Earls whose portraits hang there and who served their country throughout the reigns of George I to Elizabeth II.  They later admired the Pitt bedrooms.  Pitt the Elder (The Earl of Chatham) and Pitt the Younger were two of our greatest Prime Ministers, connected by marriage with the Stanhopes.

Finally, they were treated to a sumptuous afternoon tea in the comfort of a quintessentially English Drawing Room before a walk in the gardens, seeing the large lake where Boris Johnson is known to have enjoyed rowing when he was Foreign Secretary.