Survivors from the Mist of Time

Article excerpt

BRITAIN is dotted with historic homes, but only one can claim to be the oldest in the country.

Eastry Court carries the mantle, with a listing in the Guinness Book of Records to prove its provenance. Despite the fact that the facade dates from the 18th century, parts of the stonework date from Saxon times.

This unique house in the Kent village of Eastry, not far from Dover, is on the market at around [pounds sterling]650,000 through Strutt and Parker.

Its rich history dates back to 603AD, when it belonged to King Ethelbert of Kent. His wife, Queen Bertha, invited Saint Augustine - the first Archbishop of Canterbury - to bring Christianity to Saxon England.

In the 9th century the house ceased to be a royal palace and was given to the monks of Christ Church in Canterbury by King Ethelred the Unready. In 1164 Thomas a Becket is believed to have hidden in the building for eight days before fleeing to France.

Parts of the house display a heavily timbered frame from the 14th century, while the drawing room and other rooms date from the 18th century.

The handsome Georgian facade has 19 sash windows overlooking the driveway and lawn.

The ground floor has fielded pine panelled rooms, large inglenook fireplaces and exposed timber framing. Portions of the old flint chapel remain to the rear.

The house has eight bedrooms, a drawing room, morning room, sitting room, study and kitchen/breakfast room complete with Aga, quarry-tiled floor and beamed ceilings. It has one-and-three-quarter acres of landscaped lawns and herbaceous beds, and there are several outbuildings and a three-car garage. …