If you’ve ever bought a house of you dream you might know this feeling of pure harmony wrapping you up when you first visit the building. It can have some flaws, but it doesn’t really matter for you, because the minute you step across its threshold, you know for sure that this place was creating exactly for you. This sort of unison with the 17th-century Bateman’s house suddenly felt Rudyard Kipling and his wife Carrie, when they first encountered it in 1900. At that time they lived in the coastal village of Rottingdean near Brighton but were looking for a new home. Although the population of the place hardly even counted 2,000 thousand residents, for Kipling, already famous as the author of “The Jungle Book”, it started to appear too overcrowded by curious gapers. But maybe the true reason lay in that everything in the Kipling’s house at Rottingdean reminded them of their 6-year old daughter Josephine, who died of pneumonia a year earlier. Notwithstanding Rudyard and Carrie fell in love with secluded Bateman’s house at first sight, they let it slip in 1900, but managed to obtain it and move in only two years later. This house became the last resort for the writer until his death in 1936 as well as for his wife, who followed him 3 years later.
A somber oak-paneled interior of Bateman’s House keeps a deep presence of its renowned owner especially due to the presence of Kipling’s personal belongings, most of that had survived from his Indian period of life. The aura of the writer gets stronger in the study - his personal oasis of make-believes. The shelves are well crammed with various books (a museum curator eagerly pointed that Rudyard Kipling was a multi-faceted person, having shown the interest in different spheres of life), but the pivot of the room is a massive 17th - century writing table – the birthplace of the immortal “If”:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise…
Rolls-Royce I Phantom
The pond in front of the Bateman’s house is said to be designed by Kipling himself. It isn’t deep, so that the parents could not be worried for their kids, paddling and romping by the water, even if they fall in it. But it seemed that not only the youngsters were thrilled about the pond. In the Kipling’s guests book Rudyard often put down F.I.P. that cannot be taken for V.I.P. By F.I.P. Kipling meant “fell in pond”. A little bit further from the house is settled built in 1750 watermill. During Rudyard Kipling it was converted into mini power station, but now it, like in older times, grinds the flour. You can not only see the watermill in work every Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm, but also purchase their flour in the mill’s shop.
And leaving the spot, don’t forget to look in on the carriage house, where you can discover that Rudyard Kipling was not only the master of the word but also a passionate car-lover. The Rolls-Royce I Phantom that he bought in 1928, displayed in the carriage house (on loan), might be of venerable age but still look in great shape.
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