With many thanks to Mike
Warren and especially to Peter for the great photos. See Peter's account of his
exploits at Charlton Court at the bottom of this page. If anyone has pictures
that they would like to share please let me know - contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org (please copy). Click on link to see full size picture.
All pictures reduced from a much higher resolution scan - if anyone would like
the original (much larger) version I can send as an e-mail attachment, please
Maidstone Planning Committee Meeting June 9, 2005 click here to view PDF document (Adobe Reader required)
Development Plan (NOTE: Field House is Allan Rimmer's house, Coach House is The Stables + Coach House [attached buildings] - all restored & renovated)
Two pictures at left taken by Mike Warren in April 2005 (prior to construction)
Pictures below taken by Peter Still on Thursday 14th September 2006
Pictures below taken by Peter Still on Tuesday 24th October 2006
Picture at left taken by Donard Baird in August 2007
Pictures at left taken by John Welch on 1st November 2007
Pictures at left taken by Mike Lacey on 1st November 2007
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 08:49:15 +0100
Subject: Charlton Court - restoration work, voids, tunnels and a coffin!
** safety hard hat, safety shoes and reflective jacket are required for visitors to go on any construction site and Peter being in Health & Safety had these items with him. IMPORTANT NOTE: prior approval is required from Fernham Homes to enter the Charlton Court construction site.
I've just had the most amazing day. On Thursday September 14, 2006 I found myself in Kent on business, and my meeting was cancelled. Took a bit of manipulating... anyway I drove to Charlton Court, thinking I might take a few photos of the building site over the fence. When I told the site foreman why I was there he said I could walk around the site if I kept out of the way. When I told him one of my duties is Health & Safety**, he let me into the building! I spent 2 hours walking about, taking photos, and chatting to the builders. One even lent me a torch so I could go down to the cellar. Apparently the intent is to sell the building as a single dwelling, with 7 en-suite bedrooms. They are also building 4 new 'executive' houses on site.
The builders are making a reasonably sympathetic job of restoring
the house to its 17th century state. All the post-war additions have been removed,
but the Victorian Junior Bathroom remains, complete with its cast-iron pillar,
but without the bell outside! One of the builders is keen to find some better
illustrations of the original chimneys that were demolished before our time -
any ideas? Apparently the builders have a historian, who had researched the house.
I'll try to contact him or her in case they know anything interesting. Some letters
from the fifties and later were found during the clearing of the house, but the
guy who told me
wasn't sure what had happened to them.
The rumour about the priest hole was true. There was a void with no obvious function in the wall near the entrance to the dorm on the 1st floor (left of the main landing). It seems to have had airholes, but was bricked-up in Victorian times. The story about the tunnel to East Sutton church also has some credibility, one of the builders has something to do with the church, and there is apparently some underground construction that might be the start of a long-collapsed tunnel.
What was the room between the Back Stairs and the Music Room? Was it a staff room? There was a false ceiling in it. When they removed it they found a coffin! All work stopped while the police and coroner were called, it was then found to be empty.
I also took a walk around the grounds. Was the football pitch level when we were there? I didn't think so. Apparently one of the letters referred to the Army levelling the pitch. You must have been looking in the wrong place when you were in the woods, the ridge is still there, as is the big oak from which Smithy hung a wire that could be slid down. There are also lots of pits that, with a little imagination, could be the remains of camps, and a few smaller ridges that might have been dams.
I then drove to Sutton Valence, and as I stopped just before Millfield House, an elderly couple were driving out. I introduced myself and was immediately invited in, shown round the house and garden, asked about Shaw, fed tea and sandwiches. The couple are Colonel (Pat) and Mrs (Elaine) Beaumont, and they said they would be delighted to hear from anyone with stories about the house and its owners. Also if there is another reunion in SV they would offer hospitality if given enough notice. Wonderful couple, Pat is 72 and very fit, ex-paratrooper. I suggested that Pat should go to your web site and read Ralph Gee's works to learn more about Shaw.