History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: One of the finest fortified manors in England
Sir Philip was writing towards the end of the 16th century, when Penshurst was already an ancient house. Around 1329 John de Pultenay purchased the Penshurst estate from the Penchester family. The worn 13th century effigy of Sir Stephen de Penchester can be found in the local parish church of St John the Baptist. Pultenay was one of the richest and most powerful men of the mid-14th century. A wealthy merchant, he served four times as Lord Mayor of London. Given his wealth and status it is no surprise that he began to build a grand new hall at Penshurst, a hall that would reflect his social status.
Pultenay's 14th century hall still forms the centrepiece of the house we see today. In 1341, before the hall was finished, de Pultenay received a license to crenellate; that is, to fortify the building. The hall is fully 60 feet long and nearly 40 feet wide, with high traceried windows admitting light. The impressive roof timbers are not the usiual oak, but chestnut, and the beams are supported on grotesque wooden figures. From the main hall a stair leads down to a vaulted crypt, and up to a solar; a private chamber where family members could escape the hubbub in the hall below. In the wall is a small window, or squint, where Pultenay could keep an eye on what passed in the hall without being seen.
Sir Robert Sidney's sons Algernon and Philip fought for Parliament in the Civil War. Algernon was a friend of William Penn and helped Penn write the constitution for his New World colony of Pennsylvania. But Algernon was also politically active, and he was implicated, rightly or wrongly, in the Rye House Plot of 1683. The plot aimed to kill Charles II and replace him with his brother James, Duke of York. Sidney was convicted by the infamous Judge Jeffries, and executed.
While you're visiting Penshurst don't miss the chance to enjoy the parish church of St John the Baptist, where the Sidney Chapel boasts tombs to members of the family dating back to Sir Willliam Sidney, the first member of the family to live here.
About Penshurst Place
Address: Penshurst, Tonbridge, Kent, England, TN11 8DG
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: 3 miles south west of Tonbridge, on the B2176
Website: Penshurst Place
Phone: 01892 870 307
Fax: 01892 870 866
OS: TQ527 438
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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13th century (Time Period) - 14th century (Time Period) - 16th century (Time Period) - 18th century (Time Period) - Charles II (Person) - Civil War (Architecture) - Edward VI (Person) - Elizabeth I (Person) - Medieval (Time Period) - Queen Elizabeth (Person) - Queen Mary (Person) - Tudor (Time Period) -
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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