For generations The Jungle Book has remained synonymous with Disney and their 1967 animation. Now, to go along with a long trend, there is also a modern live-action remake (2016). The Jungle Book (1894), however, is still Rudyard Kipling’s most famous story. Many of us know Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan and co. I have memories of sitting with my nene and watching the Disney classic as a child.
For this reason, I was excited to find that Battle (where I was camping over Easter weekend) was close to Bateman’s – Kipling’s home.
Kipling chose Bateman’s as his family home after he was made famous by The Jungle Book and Kim (1901). The location was ideal for him and his wife, Caroline, as they were seeking solitude and quiet from the public gaze after the sudden death of their daughter, Josephine in 1899.
Kipling himself wrote that, on entering the seventeenth century property that they ‘found no shadows of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace, through her new end was three hundred years old… A real house in which to settle down.’
The house was, in fact, built in 1634, for London merchant William Langham who lived there until his death. Although quite large it still retains the idea of a small, and cosy, home. On walking up to the property, I was shocked by how welcoming it was.
The house is surrounded by well-kept gardens (as most National Trust properties are) and acres of green; something always breath taking for any city dweller.
You enter the property via the hall and are immediately met with rows of Kipling’s books in a dark-brown panelled room with white and black tiles.
There was a little toy fish hanging, once played with by the Kipling children, as well as a marker of whether or not you were to enter the house (when facing left, I believe) or wait in the hall (facing right).
Kipling’s study was a treasure trove of books, and objects from across the globe, as well as sculptures done by his father, Lockwood. There was also a large bridal chest, similar to his father’s, made in Lahore by Sikh craftsmen in the late-eighteenth/early-nineteenth century.
Unfortunately, the house was jam-packed full of people of all ages (which is a good thing), so I wasn’t able to give every room as much attention as I would have liked to; but, I enjoyed my time spent there, and it’s definitely somewhere that I would like to visit again.
It has also kindled a need in me to read The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book (1895) at some point (it’s been added to my ever-growing TBR).
P.S. I’m sorry that there’s not actually much writing in this post – I think I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block, hopefully I’ve made up for it with lots of pictures!