Getting on with the restoration of Court Lodge as best we can

There has been a lot going on at Court Lodge lately, and some good progress has been made on restoring parts of the house and garden. There is always so much to do though that it does seem to be a herculean task at times. Still, the only way we can make progress is by doing it in small, manageable (and affordable!) steps.

One job that was quite urgent was repairing and repointing the stonework on the southwest corner of the house. This seemed to be the area where the most damage has been done by the weather. The scaffolding went up a few weeks ago, and then the work began.

Scaffolding goes up and EB Sculpture set to work

Scaffolding goes up and EB Sculpture set to work

As with so many other jobs at Court Lodge, once the work got started, the problem was revealed to be much worse than we had initially thought, and consequently it has taken much longer, and will be much more expensive, to fix.

A wall of loose stones

A wall of loose stones

Much of the stonework was just loose, weathered stones.

Much of the stonework was just loose, weathered stones.

There was nothing holding many of these stones together. We were lucky they had stayed in place as long as they had.

There was nothing holding many of these stones together. We were lucky they had stayed in place as long as they had.

Still, the men from EB Sculpture, who have restored many heritage buildings, have been doing a fantastic job. The stonework on the southwest corner will soon be repaired, weatherproof, and set to last for another hundred years or more.

We have also been very lucky to have been able to hire some really handy handymen over the last few weeks. We were joined by Matthew Poole for a couple of weeks, who did lots of mowing and lots of odd jobs that Ian hasn’t been able to get round to. Sadly for us, Matthew was so good that he has landed himself a job, so won’t be able to do much more for us at Court Lodge. We really enjoyed having him around, and we wish him well for the future.

We also have Elwyn Scott who is an ace decorator. He decorated some bedrooms, and is now working on various window frames around the building.

We were also lucky enough to hire Bryan Ellis for a week of carpentry and various other jobs. His work is of such high quality that he is in very high demand, so we’re really pleased we could have him for a week. One of the jobs he did was to remove some old brick and slate tables from the Conservatory, which will make it a much more usable space. We were very pleased to see that the Pulham tiled floor beneath the tables was still in tact.

It might have been a bit heavy for Ian!

It might have been a bit heavy for Ian!

They got the conservatory cleared pretty quickly, and it looks great.

They got the conservatory cleared pretty quickly, and it looks great.

So things are moving on at Court Lodge. We are making progress and the house is responding well to the love and attention it is getting from us and our fantastic team.

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Architectural connections between Court Lodge and Kendal

I wrote recently about our stopover in Kendal on the way back home from Bonny Scotland, and how we found many historical family connections there. But there was another dimension to our trip to Kendal: an architectural one.

There has been a house on the site of Court Lodge since at least the 12th Century, but the current house was, we believe, built by my ancestor William Morland in 1730. We think that he tore down the (probably Jacobean) house that was on the site, and built the current house, probably from stone quarried from the site. He built it in the Queen Anne style, that was much more common in Westmorland than here in Kent. A typical Kentish manor house looks something like this:

Kentish Wealden Hall

Kentish Wealden Hall

Court Lodge, by contrast, looks like this:

South facade of Court Lodge

South facade of Court Lodge

Notice the arched windows; this will become relevant in a moment. We love the arched windows, and in fact, chose to incorporate them into our logo for Court Lodge when we first arrived back here:

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The colour of the logo is taken from the stonework of the building.

Court Lodge is therefore quite different from typical Kentish buildings. When we arrived in Kendal, however, it became abundantly clear where the inspiration for the architecture of Court Lodge came from. These are some of the buildings we saw:

Georgian building on Highgate, Kendal

Georgian building on Highgate, Kendal

Another Georgian building in Kendal, with arched windows

Another Georgian building in Kendal, with arched windows

The large blocks of stone, the Georgian sash windows, and the arched windows are all a recurring theme, and something these buildings have very much in common with Court Lodge.

We visited a very nice pub for lunch while in Kendal, the Globe Inn, and got chatting with the landlord about the reasons for our visit. We mentioned the architecture, and he told us that there is a particular type of window called a Westmorland window. It is an arched window that extends beyond one storey of the building, often in a stairwell. I looked around Kendal for examples of Westmorland windows, and found several. Here are a couple:

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This was very exciting, because we realised straight away that Court Lodge has a Westmorland window!

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The arched window here in the centre of the East facade looks onto the stairwell of the main stairs, and clearly goes between two storeys, so it fits the description of a Westmorland window. My ancestor, William Morland, certainly took his architectural inspiration from Westmorland, and incorporated a Westmorland window into the design of the building. The only thing that seems not quite right is that this window does not have the traditional Georgian glazing that the other arched windows have. I suspect it was rebuilt at some point during its history, and that it was originally glazed in the same way that the other arched windows are.

Another thing I had discovered before our trip to Kendal was that Ann Morland, pictured below, had moved back to Kendal after her husband died.

Ann Morland as a young woman

Ann Morland as a young woman

Ann Morland as an older woman, perhaps at the time she was living in Kendal

Ann Morland as an older woman, perhaps at the time she was living in Kendal

I found this out purely by chance when I discovered some old hair powder licenses among the Morland documents in the archives. See this post for more about that discovery. These documents cite Ann Morland, her sister Margaret Matson, and her daughters Anna Eleanora, Mary, Eliza and Margaretta, all living on Highgate in Kendal.

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I don’t know which house on Highgate they lived on, but it is lined with many substantial Georgian houses. I plan to contact the Kendal library’s archivist to see if there is any way of finding out where precisely they lived on this street.

Highgate, Kendal

Highgate, Kendal

Once again, I feel that this brief trip to Kendal has helped make more sense of Court Lodge as a building to me. It’s history tells a story of the origins of the Morland family, and that story is written into its architecture.

Historic family connections in Kendal

During the Easter holidays we took a trip up to Scotland to visit some friends. Scotland was looking stunningly beautiful, as always, and the landscape reminded us fondly of the South Island of New Zealand, our home for 15 years.

In order to break the journey on the way back, we stopped for two nights in Kendal. I knew there were some historic family connections with Kendal and Westmorland, and I wanted to investigate further.

The Morland family originally came from a village called Morland in Westmorland. We visited there two years ago on our last trip up to Scotland.

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My ancestors also include the Matson family, who came from a place called Titup in Dalton-in-Furness. Ann Matson married Thomas Morland in the 1770s (she was the mother of the ‘Jane Austen generation’ of the Morland family. See this blog post for more information about that). This is Ann as a young lady:

Ann Morland as a young woman

Ann Morland as a young woman

And this is her sister, Margaret Matson:

Margaret Matson as a young lady

Margaret Matson as a young lady

We visited Kendal Parish Church, which is a very impressive building, illustrating the wealth of this area in the 18th Century. Inside we found some plaques to some of my Morland and Matson ancestors! This was very exciting, as we have portraits in the house of some of the people named on these plaques.

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The people named on this plaque are William Matson of Titup and his wife Ann, daughter of Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite. I’m pretty sure that this William and Ann Matson were the parents of Ann and Margaret in the portraits above. Not only that, but we have portraits in the house of William Matson, his wife Ann, and Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite.

William Matson of Titup

William Matson of Titup

Ann Morland, wife of William Matson

Ann Morland, wife of William Matson

Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite

Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite

This portrait of Jacob Morland is supposedly by George Romney, a famous portrait artist from Kendal. There was a plaque to him in Kendal Parish Church too, and many of his paintings were on display in the Kendal art gallery.

Plaque to George Romney

Plaque to George Romney

However, like many of the portraits in Court Lodge, our ‘Romney’ is actually a copy. At various points in the family history the portraits were copied and the originals sold. The original hangs in the Tate Britain, and looks like this:

Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite by George Romney

Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite by George Romney

Quite a difference! We visited the art gallery in Kendal and saw many more of the Romney portraits, which show that this portrait is very much of his style. See this one, for example:

Portrait of INSERT NAME by George Romney

Portrait by George Romney

There were other plaques in Kendal Parish Church of Morland and Matson ancestors. We found this one under a carpet in the Parr Chapel of the Church (named after the family of Katherine Parr, the wife of Henry VIII who survived him):

Plaque to Margaret Matson, Relict of William Matson of Titeup

Plaque to Margaret Matson, Relict of William Matson of Titeup

And this one names another daughter of Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite:

Plaque to Thomas Holme and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite

Plaque to Thomas Holme and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite

The place that is frequently mentioned in connection with the Matson family is Titup (sometimes spelt Titeup). I had googled Titup to see if it was a place that still existed, but had found nothing. However, Ian got on the case, and found that if you were a bit more relaxed about the spelling, something fascinating turned up. He found a house near Dalton-in-Furness for sale on an estate agent’s website called Tytup Hall. Here it is:

Tytup Hall, Dalton-in-Furness

Tytup Hall, Dalton-in-Furness

It was so exciting to see a picture of the house that Ann Matson must have lived in before moving to Court Lodge when she married Thomas Morland. The estate agent’s website also included an Ordnance Survey map showing Tytup Hall:

Ordnance Survey map showing Tytup Hall

Ordnance Survey map showing Tytup Hall

While we were in the Kendal museum, we bought a copy of the first edition Ordnance Survey map of the area, and sure enough, in the very same place, just North of Dalton-in-Furness is Titeup Hall (note the different spelling!):

Titeup Hall on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map from the 1860s

Titeup Hall on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map from the 1860s

I felt like this visit to Kendal put me in touch with my historical family connections in this part of the world. It was great to see the plaques in the church, and be able to connect them with the portraits that we have in the house. The collection of portraits that we have now makes more sense to me. Ann Matson must have brought with her portraits of her parents (Ann and William Matson) and her grandfather (Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite), as well as the portrait of herself and her sister Margaret. Just like we surround ourselves with photographs, carry them round with us on our phones, and share them on social media, our ancestors in the eighteenth century brought their portraits with them when they married into a new life.

It was also wonderful to see Titup Hall, albeit on an estate agent’s website, as I have seen it mentioned in the family pedigree, as well as on all the plaques. It makes my family history seem all the more real to me.

Cutting back an out-of-control hedge in the garden

Over the last 18 months the garden has really responded to the hard work, talent and dedication of our head gardener, Hamish Bett, and our amazing team of volunteers. There is still lots to do (in fact there will always be lots to do!), but progress is definitely being made.

One job that we have made a start on is removing the overgrown yew hedge around the knot garden. It had grown so big that it was pushing over the stone wall that surrounds the knot garden. We want to restore the stone wall, so we had to get rid of the yew.

The yew hedge started life as four small yew bushes evenly spaced along the knot garden wall, as you can see in this picture from the 19th Century:

View of the south facade of Court Lodge from what is now the golf course. You can clearly see the wall around the knot garden and, if you zoom in, four evenly spaced yew balls within it.

View of the south facade of Court Lodge from what is now the golf course. You can clearly see the wall around the knot garden and, if you zoom in, four evenly spaced yew balls within it.

Over time those four yew bushes had grown so huge, and merged into one another that the result, looking out from the south terrace, looked like this:

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Although the knot garden looks beautiful, you can’t see the wall at all for the surrounding yew hedge. You can see the four original yew balls, and how they have merged to make one enormous yew hedge that was at least 3 metres deep.

The effect of the hedge on the stone wall can be seen here:

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The wall is Grade II listed, as is Court Lodge, and all the structures in the garden, so we have to restore and maintain it. Back in February, Ian and Hamish decided to take drastic action and take down the yew. Here are some pictures of that process:

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There was a massive amount of yew hedge to get rid of, so we had several nights of bonfires, but you can see the wall being revealed from under the hedge. The final result shows how much the view has opened up for us now:

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The cherry tree in the middle is also going to have to come down, as its roots are also interfering with the wall, but we will let it blossom one last time. Once it’s gone though, and the wall is restored, the view across the golf course from Court Lodge will be magnificent.

 

More photos from India in the 1880s

Following on from yesterday’s post about photographs taken by my great grandfather Henry Courtenay Morland on his travels in the 1880s, here are some more of the remarkable contents of that big old photo album. I’m not sure where most of these places are, as he stopped labelling them about half way through the book, so if you recognise anywhere, let me know in the comments. Enjoy!

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Sadly, as well as pictures of working, living elephants, there are pictures like this of elephants as trophies of big game hunters.

Sadly, as well as pictures of working, living elephants, there are pictures like this of elephants as trophies of big game hunters.

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Henry in a horse and buggy

Henry in a horse and buggy

Henry showing off the 'new fangled' game of golf to his contemporaries. In 1890 he laid out the Morland family's own private golf course on the parkland at Court Lodge. Today it forms the first nine holes of Lamberhurst Golf Club.

Henry showing off the ‘new fangled’ game of golf to his contemporaries. In 1890 he laid out the Morland family’s own private golf course on the parkland at Court Lodge. Today it forms the first nine holes of Lamberhurst Golf Club.

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I’ve been watching Indian Summers on Channel 4 for the last few weeks, and although it is set quite a bit later than these photos (1930s), there are many common themes. These photos provide a fascinating window into the world of Colonial India at the end of the 19th Century.

There will be many more photos from the late 19th and early 20th centuries coming this way over the next few months, so keep watching.

Images of India from another era

Apologies for my lack of activity on this blog for a while. We have been extremely busy with lots of different projects here at Court Lodge, which I will hopefully be able to write all about very soon.

A while ago I wrote about my great grandfather’s travels to India and various other places throughout what was then the British Empire in the late 1880s. You can read that entry here. In that post I wrote about discovering a new side to Henry, my great grandfather. We all knew that he was massively into his big game hunting, and also that he had a violent temper. But reading his diaries I found out that he also had a genuine appreciation for the art and architecture that he discovered on his travels, as well as a deep fondness for his wife, at least at that early stage in his marriage.

Henry also, evidently, was a huge fan and a big early adopter of photography. As I mentioned in another post, we have many boxes of old glass slides, and we have recently found a way of converting them into digital images. That process is ongoing, and I’ll report back with more of these images as we sift through them. However, many of these glass slides were developed by Henry, and we have several old photograph albums containing these images. There is one old photograph album in particular that is quite an impressive object:

Henry Courtenay Morland's photograph album

Henry Courtenay Morland’s photograph album

Henry developed many of his glass slides, and the images are here inside this album. There are photos of Court Lodge, the family and the garden, as well as photos he took on his travels round the world. I’ve already shown some of the photos from inside this album on earlier blog posts. See, for example, here, here and here.

Here are some of those photos from India, Africa, and Europe. I’ve also included modern photos of the same places alongside some of Henry’s photos.

The Taj Mahal in the 1880s

The Taj Mahal in the 1880s

The Taj Mahal today

The Taj Mahal today

 

The Kashmir gate in the 1880s

The Kashmir gate in the 1880s

 

The Kashmir gate today

The Kashmir gate today

The Qutub Minar - Delhi in the 1880s

The Qutub Minar – Delhi in the 1880s

The Qutub Minar today

The Qutub Minar today

Gwalior fortress in the 1880s

Gwalior fortress in the 1880s

Gwalior fortress today

Gwalior fortress today

Gwalior fortress in the 1880s

Gwalior fortress in the 1880s

Gwalior fortress today

Gwalior fortress today

Humayun's tomb in the 1880s

Humayun’s tomb in the 1880s

Humayun's tomb today

Humayun’s tomb today

Hindu temple at Gwalior

Hindu temple at Gwalior

Gwalior temple today

Gwalior temple today

 

Palace at Gwalior in the 1880s

Palace at Gwalior in the 1880s

Palace at Gwalior today

Palace at Gwalior today

Cape Town in the 1880s

Cape Town in the 1880s

Nice, France, in the 1880s

Nice, France, in the 1880s

Nice today

Nice today

Henry is second from the left standing. I'm not sure who the others are, but this picture is so evocative of Colonial India.

Henry is second from the left standing. I’m not sure who the others are, but this picture is so evocative of Colonial India.

I don’t know who the people in the next two pictures are either, but they are stunning photographs.

 

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Casino at Monte Carlo

Casino at Monte Carlo

Lastly, here are a few more images of India taken from the glass slides that we have been digitising lately.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these images of India and other places in the 19th century. Keep watching this blog for more old photographs.

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.