Chiddingstone Castle

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Chiddingstone Castle

Chiddingstone Castle is situated in the village of Chiddingstone, near Edenbridge, Kent, England, 35 miles south of London and in the upper valley of the River Medway. The castle itself dates from the early 19th century, but incorporates elements of earlier buildings on the same site. Since 1977, the castle and its 35 acres (140,000 m2) of grounds have been held in trust for the nation by the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest and both are open to the public.

History[edit]

High Street House[edit]

The first significant building to occupy the site of the castle was a timber-framed dwelling, inhabited from the early 16th century by Richard Streatfeild, an iron master and wool merchant. Little remains of this first structure as, in 1679, Henry Streatfeild (1639-1719) had the house rebuilt in red brick in the Restoration style.[1] The building was known as High Street House or High Street Mansion since it fronted the village high street. Remodelling of the house’s grounds in the 19th century resulted in the current diversion of the road through the village.[2]

Chiddingstone Castle[edit]

In the early 19th century, Henry Streatfeild (1757-1829), the son of Henry Streatfeild (1706-1762) and Lady Anne Sidney, commissioned William Atkinson to rebuild the house in the Gothic style however Atkinson’s design was not completed and, in 1835, Streatfeild’s son, also Henry Streatfeild (1784-1852), engaged the architect Henry Kendal to carry out further work.[3] Although the Streatfields owned the house, now renamed Chiddingstone Castle, until it was sold to Lord Astor in 1938, the family did not live there after 1900.[4] During the Second World War, the castle hosted members of the Canadian Forces before becoming Long Dene School until 1954.[5]

Denys Eyre Bower[edit]

In 1955, the castle was purchased by Denys Eyre Bower (1905-1977), a former bank clerk and antiques dealer, in order to display his collections. Bower was born in Crich, Derbyshire and started collecting at a young age. Bower initially worked as a bank clerk before taking over Cavendish Hood antiques dealers in Baker Street, London in 1943.[6] The redevelopment of Baker Street led to Bower moving to Chiddingstone Castle where he intended to show his collections to the public.[7] In 1957, however, Bower was convicted of attempted murder of his girlfriend and attempted suicide and sentenced to life imprisonment.[8] Released in 1962 after successful efforts by solicitor Ruth Eldridge to prove a miscarriage of justice, Bower returned to Chiddingstone Castle which, with the help of Eldridge and her sister Mary, he continued to open to visitors until his death in 1977.[9]

Today[edit]

Bower left the castle and his collection to the nation and so upon his death the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest was formed. This trust continues to care for the castle and its collection, opening it to the public and providing a venue for weddings, and the current trustees include descendants of the Streatfeild family. The castle is a Grade II* listed building and the grounds, which contain further listed buildings including an orangery, are themselves included on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[10][11]

Collections[edit]

Japanese[edit]

Bower’s decision to collect objects from Japan was inspired by his father’s own interest in Chinese porcelain.[12] The collection of lacquer is considered to be one of the most important in a private collection, whilst displays at the castle also feature swords, armour and haniwa figures.[13]

Ancient Egyptian[edit]

The Ancient Egyptian collection spans the whole history of the civilisation and includes both grave goods, such as ushabti figures and amulets, and items from everyday life, including food and drink vessels. In 2013, items from the collection were lent to the Houston Museum of Natural Science for display in their Hall of Ancient Egypt.[14]

Stuart and Jacobite[edit]

In British history, Bower was most interested in the House of Stuart and Jacobitism and was a member of the Royal Stuart Society.[15] His collecting in this area included portraits of members of the House of Stuart, swords, objects with hidden Jacobite symbols and royal manuscripts.

Buddhist[edit]

As with other areas of his collecting, Bower’s interest in objects relating to Buddhism was driven by personal reasons; Bower was a Buddhist. Despite this, the collection does not focus on any one particular school of Buddhist thought or on any particular country.[16] Amongst items currently displayed at the castle are thangkas and images of Buddha.

Local history[edit]

In addition to Bower’s collections, the castle’s 19th century kitchen still retains many of its original features, such as three cake ovens, and is used to display a collection of kitchen utensils and an ice chest, reflecting the fact that the castle once had an ice house. There is also a servants’ hall and a servants’ bedroom.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Trustees of the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest (ed.). "A Treasure in the Garden of England: An Introduction to the History of Chiddingstone Castle". Chiddingstone Castle: A Treasure in the Garden of England. p. 2. 
  2. ^ English Heritage. "1000399 - The National Heritage List for England". Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  3. ^ The Trustees of the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest (ed.). "A Treasure in the Garden of England: An Introduction to the History of Chiddingstone Castle". Chiddingstone Castle: A Treasure in the Garden of England. pp. 2–3. 
  4. ^ English Heritage. "1000399 - The National Heritage List for England". Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Chiddingstone Castle. "Castle History". Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Lodge, Rebecca. "Denys Eyre Bower". In The Trustees of the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest. Chiddingstone Castle: A Treasure in the Garden of England. p. 4. 
  7. ^ Eldridge, Mary (1996). Beyond Belief (second ed.). Stoney Litho. p. 3. 
  8. ^ Eldridge, Mary (1996). Beyond Belief (second ed.). Stoney Litho. p. 7. 
  9. ^ Lodge, Rebecca. "Denys Eyre Bower". In The Trustees of the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest. Chiddingstone Castle: A Treasure in the Garden of England. p. 6. 
  10. ^ English Heritage. "1252483 - The National Heritage List for England". Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  11. ^ English Heritage. "1000399 - The National Heritage List for England". Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  12. ^ Chiddingstone Castle. "The Japanese Collection - Overview". Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Chiddingstone Castle. "The Japanese Collection - Overview". Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Turner, Allan (19 February 2013). "Museum to bring Egyptian exhibit out of the shadows" (fee required). Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Chiddingstone Castle. "The Stuart and Jacobite Collections". Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Mahood, Sarah. "The Buddhist Collection". In The Trustees of the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest. Chiddingstone Castle: A Treasure in the Garden of England. p. 14. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°11′09″N 0°08′33″E / 51.1858°N 0.1424°E / 51.1858; 0.1424