The original Belmont house was built 1769. In 1781 at a public auction it was purchased by the 1st Lord Harris. The main block of the existing house, designed by Samuel Wyatt in the neo-classical style, was constructed between 1789-1793 of red brick with the fronts covered by tiles. The house has a clock tower.
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General George Canning, the 4th Lord Harris, came into the estate in 1851. He made cricket popular in the country of India. The house and land are part of the Harris Belmont charity, a private trust created by the 5th Lord Harris.
The entrance to the house is from a long Ionic portico on the south side which also has an orangery. A drawing room, dining room and library open off a corridor. A staircase hall reaches to the top of the house where an oval skylight is located. The staircase is cantilevered and of stone and has a mahogany handrail.
Belmont has an outstanding collection of 340 clocks (collected by the 5th Lord Harris) and also contains mementoes related to the family’s history and travels. Regency and French furniture, Indian silverware, and a collection of watercolours depicting the West Indies are on view. The exterior of the house has Coadestone decoration on the walls and ‘patent slating’ roofs.
Belmont’s gardens are both formal and informal. Herbaceous plants, lawns, a pinetum, a walled garden with borders and roses, and woodland were first laid out in the late 18th century. There is a Victorian kitchen garden, greenhouse, and a shell grotto. A 1790 sundial is located in the walled garden.
Four miles south-west of Faversham, Kent
Exit 6 from the M2, then Broomdale Rd; off the A251 Canterbury road
Tel. 0 1795 890 202
Open: house by tour only: April-end Sep; Wed tours 11am and 1pm; Sat tours 2:15, 3:15; Sun and BH Mon tours 2:15, 3:00 & 3:45pm; gardens: year round, daily, 10am-6pm or dusk, whichever is earlier; clock tour last Sat month by reservation from website
Tea-room; parking; plants and produce on sale; special events; holiday cottages
Web: Belmont House
Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard