When Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson bought Ightham Mote in 1890, he set about turning the neglected 14th-century moated manor house into the ideal residence for a Victorian gentleman and his family. As well as making substantial repairs and alterations to the property near Sevenoaks in Kent, which included central heating, a billiard room and a bathroom, a spectacular kennel for a St Bernard dog called Dido was also added. The large kennel survives to this day as Britain’s only Grade I-listed dog house.
How Do You Like Them Apples?
Twelfth Night is best known today for being the point after which it is unlucky to leave Christmas decorations hanging, but did you know it used to rival Christmas Day for festive game-playing and eating? Marking the Feast of the Epiphany when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem, there is some debate about when it falls – the Church of England has settled on 5 January. There were Twelfth Night traditions such as the Yule log, which was lit on Christmas Day and remained burning until Twelfth Night to bring good fortune for the coming year, and traditional food and drink consumed, such as Twelfth Cake, a rich fruitcake, and a Twelfth Night punch known as “wassail”. The tradition associated with the latter, wassailing, still takes place in parts of Britain today around Twelfth Night, particularly in cider-making regions such as Somerset where the oldest tree in the orchard is toasted then serenaded with wassail songs. In Bolney, Sussex, they take the custom one step further with “Apple Howling” – a noisy vocal display to scare off evil spirits – on the first Saturday of January.