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Author Topic: Chilston Park, Lenham  (Read 2799 times)

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Offline Lyn L

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Re: Chilston Park, Lenham
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 14:33:27 »
Really not sure about that JW, you could always go for afternoon tea, as I do know they do that. It really is a lovely place. Late hubby's Gts. lived there and his 4x Gt. Grandmother was born there. It was in the Best family from 1736 until 5th Gt. grandfather died in 1819

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Offline JohnWalker

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Re: Chilston Park, Lenham
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2017, 14:21:29 »
Most interesting Lyn L.  I have yet to visit Chilston.  Do you know if you can visit just to use the bar or order a coffee?

Offline Lyn L

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Re: Chilston Park, Lenham
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2017, 13:59:53 »
                                                                                         CHILSTON PARK.

After inheriting Baards, Aretas V adopted the surname of his Gt. Grandmother Jean to whom he owed his fortune. For 30 years Akers-Douglas represented St.Augustines's division of Kent in Parliament, eventually becoming Home Secretary in 1902. Portraits of him at Chilston show a young man with auburn hair and side whiskers, and later the corpulent frock coated politician he became.
Great changes were taking place in the house at this time. The east staircase was dismantled and the two drawing rooms turned into one long room with columns where the dividing wall once stood. The courtyard in the well of the house was enclosed with a glass roof and a magnificent oak staircase was installed in the newly created room. Early Renaissance were salvaged from the disused chapel in nearby Royton Manor, which was by this time part of the Chilston estate, and placed in the staircase hall. The carved panels depict the Kings of Judah and the Emblems of the Passion, and are thought to have been installed in Royton between 1520 and 1540.

Soon the walls of the main hall were covered with ancestral portraits and hunting scenes and one of Chilston's most handsome features was complete. The next step was an extension westwards, bringing the north front of the house up to the stable drive. The extra rooms created were used as bedrooms and a fine dining room. A striking feature of this room was the highly decorative lincrusta ceiling, made from a mixture similar to papier-mache.

Akers Douglas lived at Chilston from 1875 to 1926. As an MP much of his time was taken up with Commons business, increasingly so when he became Chief Whip to Prime Ministers Salisbury and Balfour. His political career is well documented in a book written by his grandson the 3rd Viscount titled " The Chief Whip " and published in 1961. In spite of his frequent absences from his Kentish home, Akers Douglas was a good and conscientious landlord. In 1833 the estate totalled 3,753 acres, and had a gross annual value of £4,937.

As first Commissioner of Works, Akers-Douglas was responsible for handling the funeral arrangements of Queen Victoria  and the Coronation of Kind Edward VII. He received a peerage in the Coronation Honours of King George V in 1911 and became Viscount Chilston of Boughton Malherbe and Baron Douglas of Baards.

All six of his children married, with the elder son Aretas VI entering the foreign office and Diplomatic Service. The younger boy, George Akers-Douglas pursued a career in the army and later in the City. George married Doris Christopherson in 1909 and produced  two sons and a daughter. The present and 4th Viscount is the son of Ian Akers-Douglas , who was the elder son Lt. Colonel George and Doris.
During these years their sons Bob and Eric spent much of their time on the Kentish estate, using their former schoolroom on the south side as a general living room while their parents were away . A shadow of sadness crept over Chilston in 1940 when Bob Akers-Douglas died in a road accident in France. Shortly before the tragic accident, Bob married Marcai Brace, a second marriage for both of them. Their life together was brief but what it lacked in length it made up for in happiness. Bob's distraught widow didn't long survive him and both are buried at Boughton Malherbe. So it was the younger brother Eric, at this time unmarried and in the RAF, who became heir to his father. Lord Chilston was a familiar and popular figure for the local people who often spotted him cycling the lanes of Lenham during the petrol rationed days of WWII. He died in 1947 leaving those who knew him with the memory of his wit, courtesy and wisdom.

His son Eric, now the 3rd Viscount, was working in the Foreign Office when he inherited Chilston Park. At the end of the war he had been sent to Germany and Austria to select and collect German records, and later worked with Professor Arnold Toynbee on a pre-war survey, contributing a chapter of re-armament.  This undoubtedly whetted his appetite for further literary endeavours, for following his marriage to Marion Howard in 1955 he settled down to write "Chief Whip", a book tracing the political career of his Grandfather AretasV. This was followed by a biography of W.H.Smith the newsagent who made a great political career and became 1st Viscount Hambleden. But one passion eclipsed all others, his love for his home. He rarely left Chilston during the 35 years he lived there, apart from an annual holiday in Madeira with his wife. The couple spent much of their time and energy working on their beloved garden. Their rose garden was a splendid example of the colour and variety and was much admired. An aviary of brilliantly coloured foreign birds was introduced and visiting ducks and geese were frequent and welcome visitors to the lake.

During the 1950s, the house underwent another major change. The Victorian wing built in the 1880's was demolished, so returning Chilston's exterior appearance to the 18th century. The property remained in the Chilston family until the death of the 3rd Viscount in 1982. Two years later it was bought by Martin and Judith Miller, the well known antiques authorities and authors of "Millers Antiques Guide" who, while keeping its period atmosphere, ran it as a comfortable first-class country house hotel and conference centre.
Now under the ownership of Handpicked Hotels, Chilston Park remains the epitome of the classic English Country House. An extension to the old house was completed in 1997 adding a further 15 contemporary bedrooms and 2 meeting rooms.

                                                                                        Chilstons Past Owners.

13th Century - Fitzhamon Lords of Leeds Castle.
16th Century - Hoese or Hussey family . Their possession of Chilston spanned from around 1270 -1545 when Henry Hussey sold the property.
1650 - Edward Hales.
1698 - Hon. Mrs. Elizabeth, daughter of John, Lord Culpepper of Hollingbourne Manor.
1709 - William Hamilton , 3rd son of Elizabeth.
1719 - John Hamilton, High Sheriff of Kent and son William.
1736 - 1819 - Thomas Best, MP for Rochester and son George lso, MP for Rochester 1790-1796.
1821 - George Douglas of Baards, Midlothian.
1875 - Aretas Akers of Malling Abbey, later 1st Viscount Chilston.
1911 - Viscount Chilston of Boughton Malherbe.
1926 - AretasVI, (Viscount Chilston).
1947- Eric Alexander (youngest son of Viscount Chilston) owned by Chilston family but unlived in from 1964-1982.
1984 - Judith and Martin Miller.
2001 - Handpicked Hotels.

(copied from the original leaflet from Chilston Park).
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Offline Lyn L

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Chilston Park, Lenham
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2017, 12:51:36 »

                                                                                                     "  A sweetly watered place "

                                                                                                              John Evelyn, 1666

So wrote John Evelyn, the Restoration diarist, during a visit to Chilston Park in the 1660s. The Writer was staying with his cousin Edward Hales and evidently much appreciated his stay in the heart of Kent, far from the plague- ravaged capital.                                                                   

                                                                                                                        CHILSTON PARK

   The origins of Chilston Park go back to at least 1100 when  'Childeston' was owned by the Fitzhamon Lords of Leeds Castle. Childeston means  " dwelling of the younger son ", which suggests that these lands were originally subject to the old Kentish custom of gavelkind, whereby estates were shared equally between all surviving sons.

The house in its present form  is primarily due to work of the forebears of the 3rd Viscount Chilston in the 19th century.

A 1719 engraving in Harris's " History of Kent " shows that the walls date from the early 16th century, when it belonged to the House or Hussey Family. The inner face of the side walls of the house are of 15th century diapered brick, and the mounting block in the stable yard is constructed from a 16th century chimney piece, bearing the Hussey coat of arms. It has also been said by some authorities that Chilston was partly built from the ruins of Colbridge Castle.

Between 1270 and 1545, the house was almost certainly built around an inner quadrangle, a feature that was to survive until the end of the 19th century. There is evidence concerning this period, which throws light on a nearby house that was later linked with Chilston.  Royton Manor, owned in 1545 by Robert Attwater, boasted a fine set of early Renaissance carved panels, which were installed in Chilston's staircase hall many years later.

In 1650, Mr Edward Hales bought the house. Upon his death, his three daughters inherited the property. It was then sold in 1698 to the Honourable Mrs Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of Lord Culpepper of Hollingbourne Manor. Its new owner was succeeded by her third son William, in 1709.

William Hamilton courted and married his second cousin Margaret Culpepper, who rewarded him with the gift of a son John. John Hamilton, High Sherriff in 1719 , enclosed the rolling acres of grassland surrounding the manor and remodelled the front door and porch, leaving it looking much the same as it does today.

The next owner was Thomas Best, MP for Rochester and a member of a well known Kentish family.  During the Bests` occupation between 1736 and 1819 when George Best died, much rebuilding was carried out. Inside, the rooms on the east side were remodelled to accommodate a staircase hall of Chinese Chippendale inspiration and outside, the grounds were transformed into a picturesque parkland, complete with its own " natural " lake.

The Bests drained the canal east of the house but left the pond to the south west of the garden.  A sundial in the grounds bears the Best family's coat of arms and gives quaint bearings to such far-flung locations as Peking.

In 1821, the property passed to George Douglas, the eldest son of Alexander Douglas of Baards, Midlothian, and an event which marked the start of a family connection which was to last until the sale of the house in 1983. The Douglas` were related to the Akers family of Lancashire who were involved in the Caribbean sugar trade in the 17th and 18th century.
The head of the Akers family bore the unusual christian name of Aretas, a name which was to travel through seven generations . Aretas 1, married Jean Douglas, George's aunt in 1752 and in 1795 Aretas II wed the daughter of Rev.James Ramsay, a keen abolitionist and rector of Teston. (A portrait of Aretas II had been loaned by Lord Chilston to Martin and Judith Miller and can be seen in the staircase hall).

George Douglas, a bachelor, had an adopted daughter named Margaret Brazier who, in 1830, married one of George's relations Jame Stoddart Douglas. He inherited the estate upon George's death in 1836 and in 1873 the Baards estate in Midlothian was also left to him. .
In 1858 James S Douglas left Chilston to a distant but geographically close relative Aretas Akers V. He was then living off the converted remains of a Benedictine abbey at West Malling. He became the 1st Viscount of Chilston. He was the son of Rev. Aretas Akers IV, rector of Malling between 1824 -1856. In the same year as he inherited the estate he also inherited the Scottish property of Baards. He went on to marry Adeline Austen Smith and took her back to his Kentish home. Within a few years the ancient rooms rang to the sound of children's laughter as they brought the old house back to life.

More to come  tomorrow.

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