Monthly Archives: February 2015

Digging up more history at Court Lodge

A while ago we were contacted by some keen metal detectorists, wanting to know if they could came and run their metal detectors around the garden at Court Lodge. Apparently, sites untouched by metal detectorists are rare, and they are always on the lookout for places they can come and visit and indulge their interest.

We were more than happy for them to come and see what they could find at Court Lodge. If they find anything of value they would share it with us. They told us of a recent find nearby of a chest full of coins (buried treasure!) that had netted the owners and the detectorists £1.2m! But even if they didn’t find anything of value, we thought there was a good chance that they would find things of interest.

So, what did they find? Well, there were lots of 20p coins on the lawn! We figured this was probably from the Lazy Sunday fete that we held last September. There was also the cap of a hand grenade, and some musket balls. I’m not sure how old these would be, or what they are evidence of, but it certainly shows that there have been some interesting goings-on here at Court Lodge in the past. The researcher from the Kent Gardens Trust, Mike O’Brien, who wrote a report on the history of our garden last year discovered that there was once a rifle range on the parkland of the estate, probably built for my great grandfather, Henry, and his older brother Charles, who were both in the army in the late 19th century. He also found that munitions were stored on the golf course during the second world war.

Another thing our metal detectorists found was an old golfing cap badge:

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The first nine holes of Lamberhurst golf course was originally laid out by the Morland family as their own private golf course in the parkland of the estate. Siegfried Sassoon used to come and play here, as he records in his memoirs. (I’ve written more about this in a blog post here.) I’d love to know the history of this badge.

This discovery reminded us of one of the photos we’d found among the old glass slides (see previous post). It looks like a boys’ cricket match was played at Court Lodge on what is now part of the golf course.

Cricket South ParkIt looks like Court Lodge has been the site of many sporting triumphs through the years. I just love all the physical evidence of Court Lodge’s past that the house and the garden keeps throwing up for us to wonder about.

 

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Boxes of old glass slides reveal their secrets

There’s a cupboard in our office here at Court Lodge full of boxes and boxes of old glass photographic slides. We found them shortly after we got here, but haven’t been able to find a way of getting the images off them… until now.

Boxes of slides

Boxes of slides

The problem is that the images are negatives, so holding them up to the light really doesn’t help you see what images they depict. As we become more familiar with what various members of the family looked like we can recognise them, but it’s not really possible to get a true impression of a photo from looking at its negative. Here are two examples of what the glass slides look like when held against the light. One is of a family group, and the other is of some scenery:

Negative of group photo

Negative of group photo

Negative of landscape view

Negative of landscape view

We had heard that there are still old fashioned lanterns that would allow us to view the images correctly, but we had no idea where to start looking to buy or hire one. And lots of our glass slides are different sizes, so even if we had managed to find a lantern, we couldn’t be sure that we’d be able to see all of the images. I approached the Kent History and Library Centre, who said they would digitise them for us, but we have so many that this was going to be prohibitively expensive.

Then, clever old Ian worked out a solution! He bought a light box for £45. He placed the slides on it and took a photo of them, which produced a negative image. He then found a nifty piece of free software that inverts the colours in an image. Hey presto… the positives of the negatives above look like this:

Family party. Great auntie Vi is in the middle at the back. On the bench, WCM, my great great grandfather is on the left, and his eldest son Charles is second from the right.

Family party. Great auntie Vi is in the middle at the back. On the bench, WCM, my great great grandfather is on the left, and his eldest son Charles is second from the right. Charles’s wife Ada is behind him.

View of church and house from south West

What an exciting discovery! Now all of those glass slides can offer up their secrets. Many of them appear to be from my great grandfather’s travels abroad, so there will be some really interesting pictures of India and Africa once we’re able to go through them all. We’ve only just started the process, but here are a few of the images we’ve discovered so far:

Big game heads mounted on the walls in the billiard room

Big game heads mounted on the walls in the billiard room. They’re not there any more, long since transferred to the cellar where they mouldered away and were cleared out long ago.

Group of 3 ladies rear steps

This one is lovely. I’m not sure who the old lady in the bath chair is, but the lady in the middle is great great aunt Ada. It is taken at the back of Court Lodge next to a Victorian glassed-in verandah, sadly no longer there. Zooming in on the photo we saw a boot scraper by the back steps, and that is still there!

Seriously impressed by the moustache of the man on the right!

Seriously impressed by the moustache of the man on the right! We looked closely through these to see if any of them was Siegfried Sassoon, as he is known to have hunted and gone shooting with the Morlands at about this time, but we don’t think he is in this party.

Great Auntie Vi is third from the right. I'm not sure who the others are

Great Auntie Vi is third from the right. I’m not sure who the others are

We're not sure who these young girls are

We’re not sure who these young girls are. In the background you can see the glassed in verandah that no longer exists.

WCM and William

This is my great great grandfather, William Courtenay Morland, with his grandson, my great uncle William as a baby. William was born in 1903, so this must have been shortly after that.

A view of the Church across the Pulham rock garden

A view of the Church across the Pulham rock garden

Horses in Park

These horses are standing on what is now Lamberhurst Golf Club.

As we work through these photos, I will post up anything exciting that I find, so watch this space!