Meet the Neighbours : The Grange Tour


Welcome to The Grange

St Edward’s Presbytery on St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate is just part of the original religious community that was Pugin’s master plan.

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Entangled at Turner Contemporary


Tuesday was the only day we left the immediate surroundings of Ramsgate and we drove just five miles away to Margate to the recently opened and much acclaimed Turner Contemporary. We parked nearby and paid for three hours in the car park thinking that would be quite long enough to see the Gallery (as we are not into modern art), walk along the front and the Harbour Arm (jetty) and investigate the town centre. In the end we spent over two hours in the Turner, including a quick bite to eat in the airy cafe, and had quick walk to the end of the Harbour Arm for a view of the gallery and a breath of fresh air. It was a 10 minute walk back to the car park and we realised that we had Landmark Withdrawal Symptoms and drove straight back to the Presbytery to build up the fire for the evening.

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Broadstairs on Sea

On the first Friday of February after leaving St Edward’s Presbytery and dropping my sister off at Ramsgate Station I headed to the little seaside resort of Broadstairs. It’s practically part of Ramsgate but definitely a separate place. I liked very much what I saw. I’d always been intrigued by views of the town which show Charles Dickens’s Bleak House on a cliff looking  out to sea. You can see it in the middle of the picture below. There are several Dickens connections in Broadstairs and I probably didn’t see all of them. At that early hour in the morning I was able to park easily near the sea front. As near as you can get by car, anyway. There are pleasant gardens and paths separating the beach from the road and the main streets and narrow lanes behind.


Broadstairs Beach

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Pugin’s Presbytery

St Edward’s Presbytery in Ramsgate is one of the latest properties to be added to Landmark Trust’s portfolio. It’s restoration featured in the 2015 Channel4 TV series Restoring Britain’s Landmarks.  Just before my Amsterdam trip I celebrated my birthday with a stay there. My sister joined me and we spent 4 nights relaxing by the log fire in the evenings and taking walks and making very local visits during the days. The furthest we drove was 5 miles to Margate and back.

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“We Have Done Our Best and Made A Garden Where None Was”* : Sissinghurst in Kent

house and garden

Sissinghurst Castle and Garden

Can it really be three years since some of us from the online book group met up on a summer’s day outside London? At least, it was in 2013 that I last posted about one. That was in Malvern and before that, in 2012, Chatsworth. This year it was the turn of Sissinghurst.

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Tappington Hall and The Ingoldsby Legends

“THE JACKDAW sat on the Cardinal’s chair!
Bishop and abbot and prior were there;
        Many a monk, and many a friar,
        Many a knight, and many a squire,
With a great many more of lesser degree,—         5
In sooth, a goodly company;
And they serv’d the Lord Primate on bended knee.”

Did you read The Jackdaw of Rheims at school? We did. And it all came back to me last Monday when I visited my friend Sarah’s family in Kent. Sadly, Sarah died in November 2008. We’d known each other since our first days at university in 1970 and met up several times a year ever since. Sarah’s parents and other family live near Canterbury in Kent and one of my reasons for travelling down there for a birthday treat was to visit them and talk with them about Sarah and our friendship.

It was the snowiest day of the winter but I was not deterred from my journey. Luckily Sarah’s brother was clearing snow at his parents’ home and kindly turned my car round in the drive. After my initial welcome Andrew took me in his steadfast farm Landrover to see the Ginko tree that had been planted in Sarah’s memory and on to the area of woodland on the farm where her ashes had been scattered.

After a few moments’ quiet contemplation Andrew offered to take me to visit his own home and meet his wife Sue. Tappington Hall near Denton is a lovely old house tucked away down a farm track a few miles from his parents’ place. Sue and Andrew offer bed and breakfast on an informal arrangement. They were expecting two Canadians that evening and hoping that they would find it warm enough. I think Canadians are probably used to snowy weather!

Of great interest to me was the fact that Tappington Hall was the former home of The Reverend Richard Harris Barham  (1788-1845) alias Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Everard in Kent. Sue and Andrew have a vast book collection which includes many versions of Barham’s Ingoldsby Legends. Unbeknown to me until I opened one of the books was that The Jackdaw of Rheims poem is one of these Legends.

Barham was ordained in 1813 appointed to the parish of Westwell in Kent and later to the living of Snargate and Warehorn, on Romney Marsh. He and his wife and children later moved to London where he was appointed to a post at St Pauls although he kept his Romney Marsh living as well.

His writing  and journalism took off when he got to London and he was published in several periodicals including Blackwoods and  Bentley’s Miscellany. He seems to have enjoyed mixing in literary circles in London, knew Charles Dickens and Richard Bentley and was a founder member of the Garrick Club (1832). Probably he is best known for

” … his Ingoldsby Legends, which began to appear in 1837 in Bentley’s Miscellany. Under the guise of Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Everard in Kent, Barham ‘discovered’ old documents which provided the basis for his tales. In effect, most of these are reworkings of other narrative sources, from medieval chronicles to Kentish legends and Sir Walter Scott. The mixture of crime and the supernatural, in both verse and prose, is given a comic and grotesque dimension, immediately appealing to Barham’s readers.”

Extracted from : The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The Legends passed through very many editions some with illustrations by such artists as Tenniel, Cruikshank, and Rackham and Sue kindly showed me several of these. Many of the editions were best sellers in their day.

On the Sunday night before my visit to Barham and Tappington I stayed at a B&B between Sittingbourne and Faversham. I was delighted to find a selection of Persephone Books beside my bed at Dadmans – even though I had read them all.

A further selection of Kentish books made up the library at Obriss Farm. There is no shortage of reading materials at Landmarks.

The Snowy Hills of Kent: Toys Hill, Ide Hill and The Octavia Hill Centenary Trail

I was staying in very snowy Kent last week. Temperatures were around or below freezing but that didn’t prevent me and my sister enjoying some decent tramps around the countryside directly from the back door of our Landmark – Obriss Farm.

On the Tuesday, the first day’s walking, we very soon came across The Octavia Hill Centenary Trail (OHCT) signs and it seemed that this trail coincided very closely with the walking route that we had picked out from the mass of public footpaths and bridleways criss-crossing the local fields and woodlands.

We began our walk that day by tramping over snow covered fields behind the farm to Toys Hill hamlet where the Octavia Hill Memorial Well (restored in 1999 in her honour by The National Trust of which she was a founder) marks the start of both the East and the West trails.

The Octavia Hill Memorial Well in Toys Hill hamlet

The path passes through the grounds of Chartwell (but sadly with no view of the house itself at this point) to the church and graveyard at Crockham Hill where Miss Hill is buried in the churchyard and where there is a Memorial to her in the chancel lying next to the altar.

The Royal Oak in Crockham serves decent bar snacks (and full lunches) and our circular walk finished a couple of miles later at the private track leading back to Obriss Farm. Obriss Farm doesn’t feature on the OHCT but it is only about half a mile or so from the start of the Trails at the well in Toys Hill hamlet.

To hear more about this walk click here to listen to Clare Balding on Ramblings on BBC Radio 4 undertaking the walk and which we listened to on our return from the second OHCT walk on the Thursday!

At The Royal Oak we also picked up a copy of the leaflet that outlines the two routes of the Trail which has been inaugurated as a commemoration of the centenary of the death of Octavia Hill in 1912. Our trail on Tuesday had more or less followed Walk 2 – the West Walk.

We’ve been interested in Octavia Hill for some years now via an initial interest in Beatrix Potter and visits to her (BP’s) Lake District home (Hill Top), farm and gallery and an exhibition of her work on display at The Dulwich Art Gallery back in 2006.

In August 2006 we visited Octavia Hill’s Birthplace Museum in Wisbech and came across the results of her philanthropic efforts in Marylebone on one of those London Walks : Saturday Afternoon’s Old Marylebone Walk

On Thursday we decided to do the East Walk from Toys Hill which included more hills and steep ascents than we had expected to find in Kent!

A choice of footpaths at Obriss Farm

From Toys Hill hamlet we followed the path to the village of Ide Hill via the Octavia Hill stone memorial seat and from thence to Emmetts Gardens, Scords Wood and the (yes, you guessed) Octavia Hill Woodland. We were shocked to notice so many fallen trees just lying around the woods and then we saw a sign that explained what this was all about :

After several uphill climbs the path finally downhill to Toys Wood village and our track back to the farm and the cosy parlour with its open fire in the range.