Visit to Belmont House, Faversham, Kent

Wednesday 7th August 2024

A visit is planned to this lovely 18thC House, with its magnificent views over the rolling North Downs of Kent, designed by Samuel Wyatt in his understated neo-classical style. The House was built in 1769 by Edward Wilks, store-keeper at the nearby Faversham Powder Mill. One of its distinguishing features, created by the 5th Lord Harris, is its collection of clocks, reputed to be the finest in England.

Belmont House
Belmont House, Faversham, Kent

The present layout of the grounds of Belmont House date from the 1790s, although the planting has been altered over time. The gardens consist of a walled garden, pinetum, wooded areas, formal lawns and a large kitchen garden.

Historically, the House is important for its well-preserved records of the family, many of whom played leading roles in the development of the British Empire. In the 18th and 19th centuries the first and fourth Lords Harris served as soldiers and colonial governors before returning home with mementos of their time in India. Our guided tour of the House will include these Indian artefacts.

George Harris (1746 – 1829) joined the British Army at the age of 14. His first active service was in the American War of Independence, when he was severely wounded at the battle of Bunker Hill. He later served in the West Indies before going to Bombay c.1786, where he fought in several battles, most notably the attack on Seringapatam under Lord Cornwallis during the Third Anglo-Mysore War. In 1797 he became Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army as well as, for a brief period, also overseeing the civil government. In 1798 he commanded the army against Tipu Sultan at Seringapatam, defeating him in May 1799. On his return to England in 1800 he bought Belmont House; in 1815 he was made peer under the title Baron Harris of Seringapatam and Mysore and of Belmont in the County of Kent, and five years later was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB).

Although he served as Governor of the Presidency of Bombay, Lord Harris’ great-grandson George Robert Canning Harris, 4th Baron Harris (1851 – 1932), was far better known for his exploits in the cricketing world where he made his debut in 1870. He was associated with Kent cricket for the rest of his life, holding the Kent captaincy until 1889. His career was one of the longest on record, making his last appearance at Lord’s aged 78 in 1929, representing MCC vs Indian Gymkhana. Appointed Governor General of the Presidency of Bombay from 1890 to 1895, Lord Harris’ governorship provoked a great deal of criticism, in particular for ignoring the needs of the native population in favour of pursuing his cricketing interests. Although cricket was well established in India before Harris arrived there, he did much to promote the game locally. A Memorial to him lies in the Harris Garden at Lord’s and, whatever his legacy in India, he was appointed Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India in 1895.

Belmont House - The Library
Belmont House – The Library
Belmont House - Clock Tower
Belmont House – Clock Tower

Our party will be split into two (or possibly three) groups for the tour of the House, which will take around 1 ¼ hours. The Timetable for the day will be:
10.30 : Arrival, tea/coffee/biscuits available at £3 per person
11.00 : 1st group start their tour of the House
11.10 : 2nd group start their tour of the House
11.20 : 3rd group start their tour of the House (if applicable)
13.00 : Lunch – a light lunch pre-ordered and freshly cooked with seasonal produce from Belmont House Kitchen Garden will be served in the Orangery.
After lunch, Members may explore the gardens if they wish to do so before returning home.

The cost of the Guided Tour will be £17 per person, to include a £5 donation to BACSA. Lunch will be either a Seasonal tart/quiche at £10 per head, or Salmon at £12.50 per head, both served with salad and new potatoes. Numbers are restricted to a maximum of 30, and to BACSA members in the first instance. If you wish to join this tour please book at the latest by Wednesday 24th July. To join BACSA please visit the Join page. You can book and pay online via Events on the BACSA website. Alternatively, if you prefer to pay by bank transfer or cheque, please email for instructions.

If travelling by rail, trains to Faversham run from three London Terminals – Cannon Street (journey time 1 hr 47 mins), St Pancras International (journey time 1 hr 10 mins) and Victoria (journey time 1 hr 15 mins).

Tina Davies, BACSA Events Officer