Ightham Mote. In the centre of the Gunpowder Plot or what lies behind the myth

ightham moteIghtham Mote,6 miles east of Sevenoaks (Photograph by Brian Snelson)

Although this splendidly preserved 14th century manor house is surrounded by water, Ightham Mote has nothing to do with any moat. In fact, its name takes its origin from the Old English word “moot” for “meetings”.

Having been enclosed by the dense wall of trees, Ightham Mote pops up unexpectedly in front of the visitors surprised looks. It might look not as grand as nearby Knole House or Penshurst Place, for more than 650 years its residents were the representatives of gentry, you see, but it does not look less intriguing or charming than its more refined neighbours. The Ightham Mote’s interior, with deftly carved panels and squeaky floorboards, where even the time seems to flow more slowly, has some nice old features that having been accumulated through the manors wide history. So as the elaborately painted Tudor ceiling in the Chapel, which was allegedly commissioned for the special visit of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. The Great hall, built in the 1330, is the oldest part of the house. Just above its arched entrance hangs the portrait of an old lady with young boy. The lady, whom family possessed Ightham Mote in the 16th century, is Dame Dorothy Selby. For centuries rumours have been attributing her to the disclosure of the Gunpowder Plot.
ightham moteGreat Hall in Ightham Mote (Photograph by Richard Croft)
Lord Monteagle, the courtier of James I, who received the anonymous letter, preventing him of attending to the forthcoming meeting of Parliament, was Lady Dorothy’s cousin. That was probably one of the reasons that presently gave rise to the rumours. Another reason can be found in the local church, at Ightham, where the woman found her eternal rest. There is the epitaph on her gravestone saying that her “Arte disclos’d that Plot, which had it taken; Rome had tryumph’d and Britains walls had shaken…” Some people have interpreted it as Selby’s connection with the exposure of the Gunpowder Plot. But actually, these lines refer to the Dorothy’s gift of embroidery, and particularly, to the events of the 1605 that were depicted by her skilful hand. Contrary to another yarn, Dame Dorothy Selby was not immured in Ightham Mote by seeking for revenge Guy Fawkes friends, but having had pricked herself with a needle, died of blood infection more than 30 years later.

Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this article in its entirety as long as active link back to this web-address is included.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails