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04 September 2019Layer Marney Visit
10 August 2019Visit to Savill Garden and Frogmore
11 April 2019Visit to Cambridge
10 September 2018Tour to Prague
03 September 2018Visit to Goodwood House
19 July 2018Waddesdon Manor
08 June 2018Visit to Herstmonceux
22 February 2018List of Past Visits
22 February 2018Visit to TATE BRITAIN, LONDON
24 November 2017Petworth House, Garden and town
21 June 2017Hatfield House and Garden
10 March 2017Royal Academy
13 September 2016Battle and Hastings
12 July 2016Watts Gallery
23 March 2016Standen Visit

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Layer Marney Visit
Wednesday 04 September 2019

Visit to Layer Marney Tower on Wednesday 04 September 2019

The day did not start too well – the coach was delayed plus it was raining and there were traffic jams throughout the Medway towns (first day many schools went back) but we were all on the coach by 9.30 am.  And the weather was due to improve later.

We were a group of 28 people on this outing. The roads after the A12 were at times rather narrow!

We arrived at Layer Marney just before 12 (lots of traffic at Dartford Tunnel) having had a short stop on the way at Lakeside.

Our guide Jackie was waiting for us. She waited while we had a late elevenses - we started with either flapjack or millionaire shortbread plus tea and coffee and then went straight on our tour. The weather had already started to improve – and we even had some sun.

We were doing the group tour and started off in the church with some history of the first owners. The alabaster tomb is that of Sir William Marney. His grandson was Henry Marney (who built the tower) and his son John also have tombs in the church. Henry Marney was one the most powerful courtiers of his time and you can tell how ‘friendly’ they were with the King because of the size of the lions at their feet. They were also really small people – with approx. size 4 feet and being only about 5 feet tall although John was about 6 feet tall (very unusual at that time). Some of the church is early Tudor and it was expanded later. There are rumours that the original stained glass and the gold and silver plate may have been hidden / buried somewhere in the grounds but it hasn’t been found yet. Much of the glass is therefore 19th century.

Layer Marney had a visit by Henry VIII in August 1522 (with his 1000 capacity entourage) arriving my river and then riding the 7 miles to Lower Marney on his white horse. Most people with him must have walked. it was only partly built. It has a taller tower (being 80 feet) than Hampton Court. It probably only stayed in the Marney family as it was incomplete though– Hampton Court not being so lucky.

At one stage the estate went as far as the Blackwater but has now shrunk considerably. However the views are still there.

Later owners of Layer Marney were the Tukes.  One of Sir Brian Tuke’s claims to fame was that he started the postal service. Elizabeth I is rumoured to have visited during the Tukes’s ownership and there is evidence of preparations for a visit in 1561.

There have been a number of subsequent owners some of whom owned it for many years but there have been periods, of several years, when the house was empty.

The current owners are members of the Charrington family (of brewery fame). It was first opened to the public in 1963. The eldest son Nicholas , of George and Susan Charrington, took over in 1989 and he lives here with his family of 4 children.

Externally the building is of Tudor red brick enhanced with terracotta in an Italianate style and with diaper patterns. There are some twisted brick chimneys. The building is only about 25% of what was due to be built.

The group tour takes in a number of rooms in the private part of the house. Our guide provided many anecdotes about both the family and the contents.  There was a lovely music box in the dining room that was exquisite. The only furniture that remained when the Charringtons bought it was the Billiard table! Everything else has been bought or retrieved from skips. There are many pictures by local contemporary artists.

The majority of people made it up to the roof. It was rather breezy up at the top but well worth the climb. And then we all had afternoon tea in the stable café.

Outside there were gardens plus various animals (pigs, goats, sheep, horses and chickens). The big barn is used for weddings.

We had an excellent guide who provided both facts and anecdotes and she obviously is passionate about her work. Jackie had a very clear voice so everyone heard too. She knew an awful lot and answered all the questions we had.

It was a very enjoyable visit and something to recommend to other Societies.