Gate guardians

At Chiddingstone Castle we noticed two dog statues, positioned either side of the big gate at the entrance to the house; they were perky and alert in a stony way, and they reminded me of other such statues place either side of an entrance to a stately home, or in a sentinel position in a big garden.

A gate guardian is usually understood to be a piece of military equipment like a big cannon placed at the entrance to a castle or barracks, or in the case of an airbase it might be an old aircraft. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gateways, and for the Chinese there were the door gods Qin Qiong and Yuchi Gong.


I saw another pair of dogs when we were at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Bruton; they were on either side of what might have been an impressive farmhouse.

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… and there was another beast in Devon,


…and his friend…


…and then I found this little chap in the Netherlands…



One of the first longer things it wrote was a science-fiction story; it was about space travel and the length of time it would take to travel anywhere, generation after generation maybe. I can’t remember it all now, but it was written when the only place to research anything was the local library, so I spent a lot of time there, looking up such things as the speed of light, and the sort of hormones which make people age… at least, I think that was what I was doing.

I’ve never been tempted to write science fiction again, and I don’t even read it,although growing up it was my favourite genre. However, when I see the strange pattens that lichen forms itself into, I often think it looks like a sort of map; I begin to ponder on the sort of place it would be, the country and its terrain and nature and animal life… I can see seas and lakes and rivers… I see all sorts of features.

Here is a stone globe from Chiddingstone Castle… maybe the world is suffering an ice age since the seems vast empty spaces, maybe it has been decimated by its inhabitants carelessness with their environment, maybe it is just a very watery world… I don’t think I will be tempted to write about it, but if I ever get bored with what I’m doing, well, you never know!


Family Holiday 2015, Kent day 7

The nearest village with a shop and a church to Hoath House where we’re staying, is Chiddingstone; it is apparently named after the big stone on the edge of the village, ‘the chiding stone’. Whether people were chided on it or whether Chidding is a version of the name of a Saxon clan, no-one is sure. The whole village of Chiddingstone is owned by the National Trust, except fr Chiddingstone castle.

The Streatfeild family who own Hoath House were the first owners of the castle, before it was a castle, when it was an ordinary timber-framed merchant’s house on the High Street. This was at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and as you can imagine it has changed considerably since then, and is now a grand and gracious stately home.

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The castle was eventually sold to Lord Astor, the second Viscount Astor just before the second world war, and it was sold again in 1955 to Denys Eyre Bower. (The third Viscount Astor is David Cameron’s father-in-law)

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Denys Eyre Bower was a fascinating man and he made the castle into what we see today; he was a passionate and dedicated collector of all sorts of interesting things, a selection of which are displayed in the castle, including Japanese lacquer, armour and swords; Ancient Egyptian artefacts; portraits of the Stuarts and Jacobites and Buddhist artefacts… and also barrel organs!

The castle is set in wonderful grounds and there is a lake – part of the village was diverted to make way for it when the castle was being built. There was an interesting garden laid out to reflect aspects of the Ancient Egyptian objects displayed in the castle, as well as a rose garden – we visited at the wrong time of year for that!

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Here is a link to the castle site:

Family Holiday 2015, Kent day 6

The house we stayed in this year is absolutely gorgeous; well-kept, well-appointed, lovely in every way. It’s very large but at the same time feels very homely, and I think that comes from it being a family home in the possession of the same people for hundreds of years. It must have an amazing history, but I could only find out a little of it.

Apparently, it was originally known as Batts House, and originality it was a smaller farmhouse, hundreds and hundreds of years old but was extended and refurbished about a hundred years ago. . Part of it is half-timbered, part of it is brick, and it has gables and a ‘half-hipped ended tile roof’…. not sure exactly what that is! It has beautiful leaded casement windows but thankfully for the inhabitants they are very tastefully double-glazed now! All the figments are modern and wonderful quality! As well as the leaded windows there is a lot of old panelling, dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and most of this was brought from Chiddingstone Castle where the family previously lived. As well as the panels, there is a wooden screen which was brought from Chiddingsone Church; it had formed part of the family pew!

KENT 2015 (147)Our bedroom was on the middle floor on the far right side. It stretched the width of the house and the en-suite bathroom was next to it, the other window you can see which is slightly open.