Burwash Things to Do
The Jacobean house at Bateman's is most famous for the fact that Rudyard Kipling lived here from 1902 until his death in 1936, but the house actually dates back to 1634 (the date is displayed in the stonework over the porch).
Now in the hands of the National Trust it draws in Kipling fans from far and wide all summer long. The house has in fact been preserved very well, having passed directly to the National Trust on the death of Kipling's widow, Caroline, in 1939 (just 3 years after Rudyard Kipling's own death). This means that most of the items and furniture on display really are those that were here when the Kipling's lived here rather than being an attempt to recreate what it may have looked like.
The house itself is actually quite small and so doesn't take long to get around so you can afford to take your time in each room (if the crowds allow).
The first room that you come to as you enter is the Hall which is the room that we are told first attracted Kipling to the house with it's elegant 17th century wooden panelling and stone doorways. Just by the front door is a bookcase and amongst the many books is a collection of Kipling first editions (so we were told - I wouldn't be able to tell if they were first editions or not!)
The next 'room' is the Inner Hall with it's lovely carved wooden staircase and some bronzed plaster reliefs, made by Rudyard Kipling's father Lockwood, depicting characters from his early books.
In the Parlour you see the room where Kipling entertained his guests including Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin (who was also a first cousin to Kipling on his mother's side). An interesting artifact in one of the cabinets in this room is a brass stamp of a swastika. This has absolutely nothing to do with Nazism and does not suggest (or shouldn't) that Kipling had any leanings in that direction. Kipling's use of this symbol on many of his books and on his other papers pre-dates the use of this ancient symbol by the Nazis. Kipling had adopted the practice of using the swastika back in India where it is an ancient symbol for good luck.
As you go up the stairs there is a rather worn 17th century Brussels tapestry depicting the Queen of Sheba.
The study is upstairs and is the 'spiritual heart' of Bateman's. This is where Kipling used to work and that was usually a solitary affair, very few visitors were admitted to this room whilst Kipling was writing.
What was a large bedroom next to the study has now been turned into a exhibition room and this room now displays a number of items and documents about Kipling's life and work.
In each of these and other rooms there are National Trust volunteers who are all very well informed about the place and about Kipling. They are just dying to share some of that with you so please do ask some questions as it will make their day.
As at March 2012 adult admission was £9 each but obviously this is free for National Trust members. Opening times are 11am to 5pm Saturday to Wednesday but check before going as this can change and many NT properties close over the winter months.
Whilst you are here don't forget to make full use of the beautiful gardens.
From Burwash village walk west along the A265 and you will reach a brown heritage sign for Bateman's. The first such sign points to the left at a footpath across a field and says "Bateman's 110 yards". Don't go down this path! The sign is actually for motorists and means that the turn off is in 110 yards and to the left. This is Bateman's Lane and you should follow this downhill to the property. The only entrance is through the car park.
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Once you've seen the house at Bateman's don't even think about making a move to leave until you've had a good look around the beautiful gardens.
The formal garden around the pond and the quarterdeck was my favourite but don't forget to see the flowers in the wild garden (which also has the graves of the Kipling pets) and take some time to just stare out across the lovely countyside in the meadow. You should also make a visit to the watermill and see it in action when they do demonstrations. From the entrance to the mill you will be able to see the bee hives (you can't get close for obvious reasons) and you can buy the wonderful honey they make in the gift shop (but it's £7 a jar).
Outside the church of St Bartholomew in Burwash High Street is the village war memorial dedicated to the memory of the local men who lost their lives in both world wars. The memorial was erected in 1920 shortly after the 1st world war and the unique part of it's design was the lantern on top which was lit every year on the anniversary of the death of each of the men commemorated. I don't know if this is still done today, but I hope so.
Burwash can be reached by bus on route 318 operated by Renown Coaches Monday to Saturday. There is no Sunday service. Buses run along the High Street of the village and link Burwash to Etchingham Railway station to the East and Heathfield to the West. Eastbound buses stop at an easily missed bus stop near the post office and village shops whilst Westbound buses stop by the Bear pub. It's about a 15 minute walk from these stops to Bateman's (downhill going to Bateman's but uphill coming back!).
The buses seem to leave their starting points according to a timetable but don't seem to wait until the scheduled time before leaving the intermediate points. I've known the buses to leave Burwash for Etchingham up to a full 12 minutes early so I'd advise being ready and waiting at the road side well in advance as it's probably going to be an hours wait until the next one if you miss it!