Standing amongst the Peter Rabbit worthy vegetable patch and espalier apple trees, you get your first glimpse of Bateman's down the hill. Rudyard Kipling was the same age as me, 36 when he bought it. Yikes! Note to self: must dream up something as incredible as Jungle Book!!! He was earning roughly £1.6 million a year (in today’s money) when he bought it. And he never drove his Rolls Royce Phantom, he had a driver to do that.
Having spent much of the past five years on a plane to India (visiting factories manufacturing my handbag designs) I’ve become a bit of a Kipling fan too. India is completely infectious, our colonial cultures so intertwined, I feel quite at home there. And Indians know inch of his tales, better than any British pupil. Visiting Bateman's had been on my list for a very long time.
His upstairs study, is glorious. Cabinets of curiosities, treasure chests, a library of books - and one heavily built up chair (he was very short) so he could enjoy the view.
The leather lined walls of the dining room were my highlight. Rumoured to have come from Osborne House where his designer father was working at the time. They are hand painted with Chinoiserie birds, silver underlay and lightly embossed. Perfection!
The real magic happens in the garden though. Formal pollarded trees and THE croquet lawn to end all - give way to bucolic bliss weaving through giant gunnera and bee hives to the old mill.
Bateman's is tinged with the sadness of losing two of his three children. But when the Kiplings were together, it must have been the most heavenly place to dream up stories and raise a family.
My India playlist: