Monthly Archives: March 2014

The library has hosted its first function

A couple of months ago we took our first booking for a function in the library. It was booked by Angela Mason, who needed a big space to run her ‘Touched with Sound’ workshop using gong sound therapy. There were 8 participants, and we provided afternoon tea and cakes for them, so it was our first foray into catering for an event. We were quite glad it was a small group!

Angela proudly displaying the library all set up with her equipment

Angela proudly displaying the library all set up with her equipment

Beautiful Ann Morland looking down from above the fireplace over the gongs

Beautiful Ann Morland looking down from above the fireplace over the gongs

The library looked resplendent all set up for this fascinating event. The word among the participants over tea was that it was a beautiful space, and really made the event very special.

The cakes on display

The cakes on display

Tea, coffee and cakes provided

Tea, coffee and cakes provided

The dining table set for tea

The dining table set for tea

All in all a very successful day, and hopefully the first of many more to come!

 

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Here comes spring!

Exactly one year ago today we had an icy blast from the north and a fresh covering of snow. Today the temperature here in Lamberhurst reached a balmy 13 degrees! After picking Damian up from school, we went round the garden to take some photos of the spring flowers, and the garden coming to life. Here is what we saw:

The daffodils are not quite in full bloom

The daffodils are not quite in full bloom

Daffodils around the Italian garden

Daffodils around the Italian garden

A beautiful camellia in the sunshine

A beautiful camellia in the sunshine

Not sure what this is, but it's pretty!

Not sure what this is, but it’s pretty!

Damian photographing the daffodils

Damian photographing the daffodils

The new raised beds in the walled garden

The new raised beds in the walled garden

New bark chip filled paths in the walled garden

New bark chip filled paths in the walled garden

New paths looking smart

New paths looking smart

The portraits go back up

Yesterday Ian and I put the smaller portraits up around the library, in time for the girls who came to film their scenes from The Northern Lights. But we didn’t get round to putting the main one up over the fireplace.

Ever since I was a child, and probably for decades before that as well, the portrait over the fireplace was of my ancestor William Morland (1692-1774) who bought Court Lodge in 1733, known in the family as William the First! It supposedly depicts him holding the deeds to Court Lodge in his hand. Curiously though, the date on the portrait is 1715, which is well before he bought Court Lodge. It may be the deeds to Court Lodge that he is holding, but it could also be a letter addressed to him at Court Lodge. This would also be quite curious though, as it suggests he was at least living here at Court Lodge up to 18 years before he purchased it. In fact, it’s not entirely clear to me how my ancestor came to purchase Court Lodge, and I hope to unravel a bit of this mystery at my next visit to the Maidstone archives. But, I’m getting distracted….

This is the portrait of William Morland that has hung above the fireplace for goodness knows how long:

William Morland (1692-1774) who bought Court Lodge in 1733

William Morland (1692-1774) who bought Court Lodge in 1733

Now, while this is clearly an oil painting, I think it’s fair to say that dear old William is no oil painting. And the library will one day be our wedding room, playing host to beautiful wedding ceremonies, as well as many other important occasions. We decided that we wanted a more appropriate figure to take centre stage in the library. It didn’t take us long to choose:

A new face above the fireplace

A new face above the fireplace

This is Ann Matson (1745-1808), who married Thomas Morland, son of the aforementioned William Morland. She was the lady of the house here at Court Lodge after William died, and her husband Thomas inherited it. She is also a significant character in the research I’ve been doing into the family, as she was the mother of the generation of Morlands that were closely entwined with a branch of Jane Austen’s family. ¬†She is a beauty, and the portrait is one of my favourites in the house. Much more fitting to have this beautiful young lady in her stunning dress looking down over all the wedding ceremonies and celebrations!

Here are some more photos of the library with the portraits in situ. Before long we’ll clear out the remaining clutter and take some more photos, I promise! But we’re still not completely there, as there is still the chandelier to put up, some mirrors to put up, curtains and pelmets to have made and put up, and reconditioned cast iron radiators to install. But for now, I’m enjoying seeing the beautiful Ann looking down on us!

The portraits have gone back up

The portraits have gone back up

The portraits adorning the room

The portraits adorning the room

Lights, Camera, Action!

Yesterday the library had its first taste of being used as a location for film, and I got the feeling that the newly restored library enjoyed her moment in the limelight! This was no big budget blockbuster, but a group of Year 8 girls from the Weald of Kent Grammar School who had been tasked with filming some scenes from Philip Pullman’s The Northern Lights for their English homework.

The cast and crew. From left to right: Lizzie, Becca, Izzy, Lois, Amy and Hope.

The cast and crew. From left to right: Lizzie, Becca, Izzy, Lois, Amy and Hope.

I was very impressed with how well prepared the girls were. They came with all the costume changes they needed, and various props. They borrowed a few things from us too, like a decanter, wine glass, and some salt – when one of the characters was given some poison! They were hard at work for nearly three hours. I hope their teacher appreciates how hard they worked. But they looked like they were having lots of fun too. Here is a photo of the girls filming a scene where the characters were talking about ‘dust’. The memory of reading the trilogy came flooding back to me!

Filming is underway

Filming is underway

 

The final stretch in the Library

We are almost finished in the library now, and what a mammoth task it has been! But it is looking so great that we are really encouraged to keep going and see the end result. The walls, ceiling and shutters now look amazing.

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We have been working on the floor over the last week, applying Briwax to it with fine wire wool – we were lucky enough to get Ted’s expert advice on this, as he is very knowledgeable about wood, having been a boatbuilder in the past. Once the Briwax (very stinky stuff) had been applied and allowed to soak in, we polished it with Mum’s polisher.

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It will probably need another coat, but for now this will do as it is usable as it is. Some pieces of the parquet veneer will also need to be replaced as they are warped from the combined effect of proximity to the radiators and water damage, probably also from the radiators. Luckily again for us, Ted reckons he will be able to make some replacement pieces from some old oak that he has.

The next step will be putting the portraits back up, and then of course clearing out all the decorating debris. We are going to give the old curtains a facelift with some new edging material and new pelmets. Then we’d like to get some restored Victorian cast iron radiators to go beneath the two outer windows. There clearly were there some before, as there are ¬†holes in the floor that have been filled that must have taken the pipes from the radiators. We’ve found a place in Tenterden that restores and reconditions them, so we’ll go and talk to them. The result is already amazing, but I can’t wait to see it when it is all done, and dressed.

We have our very first event in the newly redecorated library on Sunday when some girls from the Weald of Kent grammar school (daughter of a friend and her classmates) are coming to film some scenes from the Northern Lights Trilogy in it. Hopefully they will let us take some photos, and I will post them here. For now, one more photo of the library looking radiant!

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New signage

Yesterday we took delivery of some new signs that I’d ordered from a sign maker in Devon. Our logo was designed by a good friend of ours in New Zealand before we left.

Our logo for Court Lodge Estate

Our logo for Court Lodge Estate

She took the background colour from the colour of the stonework on the exterior of Court Lodge, and the arched window symbol is taken from the central windows on the south elevation. The font is Optima, which I like because it is elegant, but inclusive. (I’m a bit of a font geek, in case you couldn’t tell!)

Court Lodge - south elevation

 

We decided it was time that we had standard signage around the property, incorporating the arched symbol from our logo, and the font, and yesterday they arrived:

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They will be replacing the following old signage:

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A vast improvement, I think!

The only potential problem is that the new slate signs are much thicker than we were expecting, and so they are incredibly heavy. It is going to be at least a two man job to fix them to the wall. Luckily we have Ian and Ted here, so they will be put up very soon.

Evidence of the conservatory’s past

Mike O’Brien from the Kent Gardens Trust has been researching the history and the historical significance of our garden. This has been a mammoth task for him, and has effectively meant he has researched much of the history of Court Lodge and the Morland family along the way, as you can’t really separate them out from the history of the garden. He is writing a report for us, which should be ready in a couple of months. We’ve seen a first draft and it’s looking really great. Once it’s finished we will look into the possibility of using it to help us apply for grants to restore the garden.

During a recent visit by Mike, we were looking at some old photographs of the conservatory, which we think was designed by James Pulham and Son, along with the fernery and the pond. In the diaries of William Courtenay Morland, my great great grandfather, he writes of “writing to Pulham as to conservatory” in the year before we know he was a client of Pulham’s.

We were looking at these two photos of my great grandfather Henry Courtenay Morland and his first wife Alice sitting in the conservatory. Henry was WCM’s youngest son:

Henry Courtenay Morland and his first wife Alice Maud Nevill reclining in the conservatory at Court Lodge

Henry Courtenay Morland and his first wife Alice Maud Nevill reclining in the conservatory at Court Lodge

Henry Courtenay Morland and his first wife Alice Maud Nevill in the conservatory at Court Lodge

Henry Courtenay Morland and his first wife Alice Maud Nevill in the conservatory at Court Lodge

This part of the conservatory no longer exists as a conservatory. Instead, this part of Court Lodge is occupied by my parents’ kitchen. It no longer has a glass roof, but I do wonder whether the tiled floor still exists under the kitchen floor. Anyhow, we were perusing these photos with Mike when Ian noticed the pot stands that appear to be attached to the wall on the left hand side of the photos, and have pot plants sitting on them. Here are some close-ups from these photos:

Close up of the pot stand hanging from the wall

Close up of the pot stand hanging from the wall

Close up of pot stand

Close up of pot stand

Close up of pot stand

Close up of pot stand

The reason they caught his eye is because he had recently come across this in the garden:

One of two pot stands we found in the garden. Could they have originated in the conservatory?

One of two pot stands we found in the garden. Could they have originated in the conservatory?

They look like pretty good candidates for being the very pot stands depicted in those photographs from 1884. This is very exciting because if Pulham was responsible for the conservatory, it’s more than likely that these pot stands are made from Pulhamite. Have we found another piece of the puzzle?