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Go ahead. Try and pronounce it correctly. I dare you. I had to be corrected five times.

If you already know, or are familiar with English in the British sense of the word, you can't play. If not, just give up, and if anyone brings it up again, show them how much you know by saying, 'ah yes, 'Item' Mote. Kent, you know. South of England. Lovely. Ever been?'

Hereafter referred to as the Mote, the structure was first put up in the 1340s with a Great Hall, two Solars, a Chapel, and a Crypt, so inhabitants had places to eat, sleep, pray, and be buried, which is more or less what life consisted of in 1340. Building continued, however, over the next three hundred years until the house had seventy-two rooms, a complete quadrangle, courtyard and wet moat. Once a feature of defense, in this case it is essentially decorative--narrow enough that any defending soldier, medieval or otherwise, would risk being spat upon by attackers in the normal course of conversation standing just on the opposite side.

Priceless now, in 1521 the whole lot went for four hundred quid to Sir Richard Clement, who thought the place needed some sprucing up and is largely responsible for all of its Tudor ornamentation. He had some association with King Henry VIII, attested to by a stained glass window in the Great Hall featuring the young Church-Splitter with number one wife Catherine of Aragon (one in sequence, not necessarily quality). The New Chapel ceiling is painted with images of their union as well, Sir Richard apparently having made the wise decision not to keep it up-to-date, which would have run him an eventual fortune in artist's fees.

The Mote remained in the Selby family from 1591 to 1889, continually being rebuilt and refurbished. This family is responsible for the fascinatingly gaudy 18th Century décor of the drawing room, with its ostentatious wallpaper, huge Jacobean fireplace, and slightly ridiculous frieze.

The library, however, has no shortage of that wonderful old-book smell, and the billiards room is extremely smooth-looking.

The current condition of the house is largely the work of Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson, who in the first half of the twentieth century instigated major restorative work and passed it on to his grandson who, as grandsons will, sold it in 1951.

In the end, it was an American who stepped in and saved the place permanently by having the good sense not to pass it on to a relative. Charles Henry Robinson bought the place in 1953, and left it to the National Trust upon his death in 1985.

The Mote really is very beautiful, and the gardens are well worth a walk. The entrance fee isn't much, but the old National Trust no-pictures scam puts the squeeze on you by making you buy postcards. Tea, crumpets, and other assorted foodstuffs associated by tourists as charmingly English are available at a sort of outdoor café, and red roses grow over the stone walls in the parking lot. Roses in the parking lot, people. So if you're looking for the idyllic Manor House of your dreams, this might be it. And for all you filmmakers out there--it's available as a location!

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