Tag Archives: archives

A lost building of Lamberhurst

A week ago I posted this picture on the Court Lodge Estate Facebook page, asking if anyone knew where in Lamberhurst it was. I found the photo in one of our photo albums that belonged to my great great grandfather, William Courtenay Morland. The photos in this album that are dated are from 1902-1905.

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A few helpful people commented, and it soon became clear that it was a Kentish Wealden Hall House called Walsinghams that was demolished a long time ago. It was located on Town Hill in Lamberhurst, on a site now occupied by a house that looks like it dates back to the 1960s.

I was then sent some more photos of Walsinghams by someone who once came to stay in one of our holiday cottages, and whose husband grew up in Lamberhurst. He remembers Walsinghams being demolished, and just the chimney stack left standing for a long time.

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It was a beautiful old Kentish house. I wonder about the families that lived in it. It must have been one of the more substantial houses in Lamberhurst, so was probably home to a wealthy family. I also wonder why it was demolished. At least we still have these photos.

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Family photo albums at Court Lodge

We were recently contacted by William (Bill) Thompson who has been researching General Thomas Morland, and has produced a book of his letters and diaries. General Thomas Morland was born in Canada, but his family originated in Scotland. I hadn’t heard of him, but according to Bill, he mentions my great grandfather, Henry Courtenay Morland, in his diaries. He says that he came to stay with Henry and, tellingly, that Henry was “A worrying and funny old thing, and not very nice to his wife.” Bill was not sure how our Morlands are related to his Morlands, and I wasn’t able to enlighten him. However, as we have Henry’s diaries at Court Lodge at the moment, as well as his wife Bessie’s diaries, I invited him down to look at them, to see if he could find out anything further.

I’m not sure yet whether Bill’s visit produced any firm information about how our two branches of Morlands are related, but his visit did clear up something for me. He mentioned that General Thomas Morland’s daughters had visited Henry at Court Lodge. Their names were Phyllis and Margie. This reminded me of a photo album I had come across with all sorts of Morlands in it that I knew nothing about. I was sure that one of them was called Phyllis. I went searching!

Phyllis Morland

Phyllis Morland

This little girl is Phyllis Morland. The photo dates from about 1902 when Phyllis would have been 9, so I think that is about right. The puzzling thing is that there is no mention of Margie, and according to Bill the two sisters were always together. There is another girl referred to as A. Morland, who is older than Phyllis, and about the same age as Margie would have been. All very strange.

A and P Morland. The P is Phyllis, but I'm not sure who the A is.

A and P Morland. The P is Phyllis, but I’m not sure who the A is.

There is also a lovely photo of my great auntie Vi with Phyllis and someone who’s name I can’t read. I think it must be the same girl as the A. Morland above, but neither Bill nor I can work out who she is. Vi would have been about 18 in this photo, and Phyllis about 12.

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Looking at our family tree, Phyllis and her father can only be connected to us by going back several generations, as all of the members in our direct family tree are accounted for. I think that you would have to go back to the father of William Morland (1692-1774), who was the first Morland to take on Court Lodge, to find other branches of the Morland family that General Thomas Morland might have descended from. So what strikes me as odd is that these distantly related cousins were still obviously very connected, to the extent that the children came to stay. Sadly, that connection has not lasted into our generation, as my father had no idea about these distant cousins, and so, neither had I.

There were also pictures of other Morlands whose connection to us I have no idea about.

E. M. Morland and Gunn. No idea who either of them are.

E. M. Morland and Gunn. No idea who either of them are.

Dick and Jack Morland. We've no idea who they were.

Dick and Jack Morland. We’ve no idea who they were.

There are also photos of people that aren’t named, so they may be cousins, or friends. We’ve no idea. But they are all very evocative of the era, the first few years of the twentieth century.

Some children in bathing costumes circa 1904

Some children in bathing costumes circa 1904

The really lovely thing about these discoveries was that it gave me the opportunity to rummage through old photograph albums again. I find that every time I have a rummage through them I recognise more people and more places, as more of the overall picture of the history of the Morlands and Court Lodge falls into place. So here are some of the photographs I discovered, and how they fit into the bigger picture.

This is Ballard and Ashby. We know that Ballard was the Butler at Court Lodge at this time, and that he lived at 7 Manor Cottages in the village. My great great grandfather, William Courtenay Morland, had built the seven Manor Cottages in the 1870s for his staff. He reputedly housed them in order of status, so Ballard the butler was at number 7, at the top of the hill and nearest to Court Lodge. The next house down was occupied by the chauffeur, and so on down in descending order of status.

Ballard the butler and Ashby, probably the housekeeper.

Ballard the butler and Ashby, probably the housekeeper.

Ballard and Ashby would have been Court Lodge’s answer to Downton Abbey’s Carson and Mrs Hughes!

Next, I was delighted by this photograph of a group of children. They are probably cousins and friends of the Morlands, but what I love about this photograph is all the hats, and the white clothes. So different from today’s children, and so reminiscent of the Railway Children, and all those other lovely children’s novels from the early twentieth century.

Children in hats!

Children in hats!

Then there are many photographs of family members just living their ordinary lives, rather than posing stiffly as so many in photographs from this era are. These photos paint a rare and honest portrait of family members talking, chatting, and generally just living their day-to-day lives. This photo is of William Courtenay Morland, my great great grandfather, his eldest son Charles, Charles’s wife Ada, and I’m not sure who the other woman is. I think the dog was called Bumper though, as there are several other photos of him!

A relaxed family scene, so unusual in photographs from this era.

A relaxed family scene, so unusual in photographs from this era.

And then there are some positively bizarre photographs, like this one of Ada, Charles’s wife, walking across the lawn carrying a cockatoo!

Ada Morland carrying... a cockatoo?

Ada Morland carrying… a cockatoo?

There are some lovely photos of old Lamberhurst at the turn of the last century, again, depicting a slice of real life over a hundred years ago.

Lamberhurst, circa 1902

Lamberhurst, circa 1902

Lamberhurst circa 1902

Lamberhurst circa 1902

And then there are some lovely photographs of some of the rooms in the house as they were then. Here are two pictures of the library.

The library in 1904

The library in 1904

The library in 1904

The library in 1904

There are also some interesting pictures of the garden, which may reveal more about its history. On the left in the picture below you can make out what looks like a tiered circular feature. There is a similar feature depicted in one of the hand-painted plates of the garden, which is in about the same spot. We recently discovered some remnants of what looks like Pulhamite inside one of the shrubberies that is located about where this feature would have been. This suggests to us that this was part of James Pulham and Son’s original design for the Court Lodge garden.

A view of the St Mary's Church from the Court Lodge Garden. On the left you can see a circular garden feature. We think this is made from Pulhamite.

A view of St Mary’s Church from the Court Lodge Garden. On the left you can see a circular garden feature. We think this was made from Pulhamite.

Here is what we think is the very same feature depicted in one of the plates.

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I’ve really enjoyed having a good look through all these old photographs, and continuing to piece the story of the Morlands and Court Lodge together. There are many more photo albums in the house waiting for me to find the time to have a good look through them, so I’m sure I’ll be posting more of them here in the future. Watch this space!

Bringing home my ancestors’ diaries

During the 20th Century my great uncle, William Morland, deposited many old documents that he had found in Court Lodge with the Kent archives. These documents included old estate maps, accounts, letters dating back as far as the 18th century, strange documents such as the hair powder licenses I wrote about a while ago, and lots and lots of diaries. My ancestors were evidently great diary keepers. There are 24 volumes of my great great grandfather, William Courtenay Morland’s diaries, and I have visited the archives in Maidstone several times to read some of them. There are also diaries by my great grandmother, Bessie Morland (née Laird), and Ada Morland who was the lady of the house during World War One. I have written about her diary from 1914, when the house was turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers, here. There is also a lovely radio piece by BBC Radio Kent about the use of Court Lodge during World War One that you can listen to here.

I’ve been corresponding with the archives for some time about the possibility of bringing the diaries back to Court Lodge temporarily so that we can get them all fully transcribed. We have a wonderful team of volunteers who come here regularly and were eager to start delving into the history of Court Lodge through these diaries. The archives needed various documentation from me, to prove that I am descended from the depositor of the diaries, which I eventually managed to procure. Finally, one week ago, all the hoops had been duly jumped through, and Ian and I were able to collect the diaries and bring them home.

Boxes of diaries

Boxes of diaries

WCMs diaries from the 19th Century

WCMs diaries from the 19th Century

It seems that each year he bought the same Lett’s diary, and recorded his daily life in it on pretty much every day.

As well as reading the whole of WCM’s diaries, I’m particularly looking forward to reading the diaries of Bessie and Ada, to find out more about what women’s life was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

We have also finally got round to sorting through various old boxes of keys that we found in the house. Some of these are very old. Most, we think, no longer open anything in the house. But they are a historical record in their own right.

Boxes of old keys

Boxes of old keys

This key is labelled "Gaol Committee Room" and the key next to it is from the Bayham Estate

This key is labelled “Gaol Committee Room” and the key next to it is from the Bayham Estate

The key to the Gaol Committee Room must have been WCM’s as he writes frequently in his diary of travelling to Maidstone to attend the Gaol Committee meetings. He was a Justice of the Peace for the district. There are also several keys to the Bayham Estate. I’m not quite sure how they ended up here!

This set of keys was for the Silver Chest. Sadly, we no longer have a silver chest.

These keys are labelled "Silver Chest"

These keys are labelled “Silver Chest”

Along with the keys we also found this money bag from the Anglo-Egyptian Bank in Cairo! Empty, alas!

This money bag is from the Anglo-Egyptian Bank in Cairo

This money bag is from the Anglo-Egyptian Bank in Cairo

One thing I love about being at Court Lodge is unearthing all this evidence of its history, and the people who lived here.

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.

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.

 

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!

Did Jane Austen ever visit Court Lodge?

Those of you who follow this blog, may remember a post of mine about a year ago about the connections between the Morland family of Court Lodge and Jane Austen’s family. (If you missed it, it’s here: https://courtlodgeestate.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/jane-austen-the-morlands-and-court-lodge/)

In the year since I wrote that last post, I have been finding out more about these connections, and in particular, about Francis Motley Austen.

To briefly recap, the generation of the Morland family that was contemporary with Jane Austen consisted of seven siblings. The youngest, Margaretta Morland, married Col. Thomas Austen, Jane Austen’s second cousin. Further research showed that, not just one, but five of these seven siblings married someone with some connection to the Austen family. The Morlands and the Austens were far more connected with each other than I had realised.

There was one thread of my investigation that I hadn’t been able to reach the end of, and I desperately wanted to find the missing information. It had become clear that Francis Motley Austen, father of Col. Thomas Austen, and son of Jane Austen’s wealthy great uncle Old Francis Austen, had lived here in Lamberhurst for about 15 years. What I hadn’t been able to find out was where in Lamberhurst he lived. No one seemed to know, not the Kent branch of the Jane Austen Society, nor various Jane Austen scholars that I made contact with.

The evidence that he had lived in Lamberhurst was that 5 of his children were born and christened in the church here between 1781 and 1787, and that another of Jane Austen’s cousins, Phylly Walter, is recorded as having visited him and his family at their house in Lamberhurst. And one tantalising piece of evidence was that in 1783 he ordered a had from a London hat maker from Court Lodge!

When I first read this last piece of evidence I assumed that he must have been visiting Court Lodge, being perhaps friends with the Morlands who lived here at the time. But then it was suggested to me that perhaps he actually lived here. My first reaction was that he couldn’t have lived here, because the Morlands have owned Court Lodge since 1733. But then I had an idea.

During the 1780s the head of the Morland family, Thomas Morland, father of the seven children who were contemporary with Jane Austen, died quite young. He was 50, and his eldest son, William Alexander Morland, was a minor at the time. I remember my great uncle William wondering whether Thomas’s widow, Ann, looked after the house until her son came of age, or whether she went back to Cumbria, where her family were, and left Court Lodge in the hands of a steward. The penny dropped!

My theory took shape. Francis Motley Austen did live here at Court Lodge: he acted as steward, looking after it until William Alexander Morland came of age and wanted to come and take over the reigns. In 1796, when Francis Motley Austen moved to Kippington, William Alexander Morland would have been 29, married, and ready to move back in as squire of Court Lodge, having practised law in London for some years.

To support my theory, you may recall another more recent blog post of mine about hair powder licenses. (https://courtlodgeestate.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/a-license-to-use-powder/) I wrote here about finding some old hair powder licenses, naming all of the women in the Morland family in the 1790s. They are stated as living in Highgate, Kendal.

So, to answer great uncle William’s question: Ann Morland did return to Cumbria with her daughters, and so must have left Court Lodge in the hands of a steward. Next, I needed some evidence that Francis Motley Austen definitely lived here. And it wasn’t hard to find.

I searched on the National Archives, and found an old legal document dating from 1794. One of the parties to this indenture is, and I quote, “Francis Motley Austen of Court Lodge, Lamberhurst in the county of Kent”!

The fourth line down says "Between Francis Motley Austen of Court Lodge in..." It continues on the next line, which is in the next picture.

The fourth line down says “Between Francis Motley Austen of Court Lodge in…” It continues on the next line, which is in the next picture.

The fifth line down continues from where the last line left off "... Lamberhurst in the county of Kent esquire"

The fifth line down continues from where the last line left off “… Lamberhurst in the county of Kent esquire”

So here is some concrete evidence that Francis Motley Austen lived at Court Lodge!

What makes this particularly interesting is that when Phylly Walter came to visit the Motley Austen cousins at Lamberhurst in 1787, she would have visited them here at Court Lodge.

She went to Tunbridge Wells, and records the daily round of shopping, dancing, theatre-going, horse racing, sightseeing and concerts at the assembly rooms, including a dinner visit to the Motley Austen cousins at Lamberhurst.

She was travelling with Eliza de Feuillide and Mrs Philadelphia Hancock.

If my theory is correct, she would have visited the Motley Austen cousins at Court Lodge.

Although there is no record of Jane Austen visiting Court Lodge, to my knowledge, she is known to have visited her other cousins in Kent. So it is entirely possible that she, like her cousin, Phylly Walter, did visit her Motley Austen cousins, and if so, she would have come here to Court Lodge.

This is so exciting for me, not only because it demonstrates that the link between Jane Austen and Court Lodge is closer than we ever thought before, but also because I seem to have happened upon some genuinely new information. No one knew where in Lamberhurst Francis Motley Austen lived… until now. He lived at Court Lodge.