When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time at Tenchleys Manor, the then home of one of my childhood friends, Alexia. I lived in a fairly old house myself on Trevereux Hill, but was in awe of the size, age and history of this ancient Manor House. It seemed enormous and spooky to me, then. It’s still huge of course, but not quite as spooky…at least during the day;)
Located on Itchingwood Common Road on a bridleway, you can also reach it via the footpath through the fields Caxtons and Tenchleys Park off the Kent Hatch Road. Alongside other ancient local manor houses – Grants (Grants Lane), Foyles (Foyle Riding, Red Lane), Detillens (Limpsfield High Street) and Stocketts (Broadham Green) – Tenchleys has also given its name to one of Oxted School’s houses.
This beautiful Elizabethan manor house (thought to date back to 1599 or perhaps slightly earlier) is a highlight of a lovely walking route from Limpsfield Chart down through Itchingwood and through the farms to Grants Lane, Tenchleys is surrounded by fields and woodland and stands pretty much the same now as it has for hundreds of years – beautifully picturesque, with its ancient Elizabethan oak beams, walled garden and duckpond at the gates of the driveway.
A C16 house with Victorian extensions, this beautiful Grade II* listed home has exposed beams, hand-carved oak panelling and a huge Inglenook fireplace. Its old leadlight lattice windows dated back centuries. Its exterior oak beams had been covered up with tiles, but were restored to their former glory by former owner, Frank Stark.
My friend’s rather large dog, Digby, a Rottweiler, used to patrol the garden and was a very good deterrent for any ramblers tempted to wander off the footpath for a little snoop around this beautiful house! He was also a pretty good at stopping me going from the hallway into the kitchen as he used to lie across the threshold of kitchen (to the left of the picture above), taking up the whole space and growling as soon as I dared to step over him!
We spent hours looking for tadpoles in the pond and making friends with the ducks and moorhens and generally roaming around the fields, hay barn and other farm-buildings.
Alexia, whose family moved to Hever in 1983, remembers: “I didn’t really like Tenchleys as a child. It was big and scary to me, but I loved my bedroom! I loved Christmas there too, as we would have a huge Yule log in the enormous Inglenook fireplace (apparently the largest in Europe) and I would sit inside the actual fireplace, pretending I was a queen!”
“Historians used to turn up all the time and want to take rubbings inside the Inglenook!” remembers Alexia. “Digby, the dog, was usually the deciding factor as to whether they did or not! My stepdad (Frank Stark) put a lot of time and effort into preserving and conserving that house – he loved Tenchleys.”
More info on Tenchleys at https://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101029762-tenchleys-manor-limpsfield
NB – this is a private family home, so if you go on the walk, please respect the owners’ privacy and boundaries and stay on the footpath.