Bateman’s is a 17th-century house located in the pretty white weather-boarded village of Burwash, East Sussex, England. Author Rudyard Kipling lived in Bateman’s from 1902 to his death in 1936. His wife left the house to the National Trust on her death in 1939, and it has since been opened to the public. If you are a fan of Kipling then the beautiful Jacobean house with its six stack column chimneys will be a draw as it has been left exactly as when the family lived there, including an impressive study where Kipling wrote and a room where manuscripts and unusual objects and collections are displayed. The interior of the house reflects Kipling’s strong links with the Indian subcontinent including many oriental rugs and Indian works of art and artifacts.
Explore the English country gardens with the manicured lawns and clipped yew hedges, lily pond and roses then wander through the meadow with its wild flowers and small flowing river where chickens roam free. The gardens are not big, but they are set in 33 acres of wonderful Sussex countryside, the inspiration for some of Kipling’s later works.
You reach the house down what Kipling described as “an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane” to arrive in the National Trust car park. A path from the entrance leads through to a herb garden and orchard to the house, café, shop and gardens.
Poem “The Glory of the Garden” by Rudyard Kipling.
“OUR England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You’ll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung-pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts, and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.”
“And there you’ll see the gardeners, the men and ‘prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise ;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows ;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.”
In the walled garden, where there is a summer terrace for the café, you can also grab a picnic blanket and sit on the lawn and enjoy the colourful borders.
“Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:-” Oh, how beautiful,” and sitting in the shade
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.
There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.”
Walking around to the back of the house brings you to the pond and rose garden.
“Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner In the Glory of the Garden.
Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!”
Leaving the formal gardens behind a track leads through the wild meadow where bees are kept, chicken roam free and a small stream meanders to the mill.
“And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away !”
More about Kipling and Bateman’s can be found here.