Published: 06:00, 14 September 2019
Every fictional tale is based at least a little in reality - and for many authors it was the county's buildings or surroundings which proved key to the creative process.We take a look at just some of the fictional locations inspired by properties in Kent.
Groombridge Place, Tunbridge Wells
In the final of the four Sherlock Holmes novels penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in 1914, the Valley of Fear, the detective is sent to Birlstone Manor to investigate a murder - described in the book as being in Sussex, Close.
It is widely accepted the manor house was based upon Groombridge Place - a hop, skip and a jump over the East Sussex border in Kent, close to Tunbridge Wells.
It was a venue the author knew well. He lived just down the road in Crowborough and was a regular visitor to the moated manor house, describing it as "the very essence of England".
The house is also said to have been the inspiration for author, poet and gardener designer Vita Sackville-West for the estate in her 1922 book The Heir - charting the struggle over the inherited Blackboys Estate. Again, she was known to have been a visitor to the house.
The former archbishop's palace at Knole was the family home of Vita Sackville-West, who was born there in 1892.
In 1930, in one of her best-known novels, The Edwardians, she uses the house as inspiration for Chevron, a country house and the main location in the book.
Sackville-West would go on to live at Sissinghurst Castle.
Royal St George's Golf Club
Remember that famous scene in the James Bond movie when he plays golf with Goldfinger? Well Royal St Mark's, as the course is called in the 1959 novel, is a barely concealed reference to author Ian Fleming's love of Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich.
In the book, the fictional doppelganger even has holes identical to that at the Open venue.
Although other locations in his books kept their real names, it is speculated Fleming didn't want hordes of people heading to his picturesque golf course.
It was a course he would visit regularly during his visits to the county - he had a home in St Margaret's Bay near Dover.
While discussing 007, it would be remiss to overlook The Duck pub in Pett Bottom, near Canterbury. Not only did Fleming apparently write You Only Live Twice during visits there, he references it as being next to where the young Bond grew up following the death of his parents.
The Granary, Little Chart
While legend has it author HE Bates was inspired to write his novella The Darling Buds of May in 1958 when he spotted a family bundling into a village shop in the county with a Pop Larkin-style head of the family leading the way, it is also thought his family home was a key guide when it came to creating the Larkins' family home.
He and his wife Madge bought The Granary in Little Chart in 1931 and lived in it for more than 40 years, up to his death in 1974. Not only did he pen all the books charting the lives of the Larkins there, he drew on its idyllic, classic Kentish village location for his work.
The private family home went on the market last year and sold for £1.1million.
Restoration House, Rochester
Well, it was surely only a matter of time before we came to Charles Dickens. And the county is awash with venues which inspired memorable locations in his books.
And perhaps most famous of all is Restoration House - or, as it's better known to millions of readers the world over, Satis House, the cobwebbed home of the tragic wedding-dress wearing spinster Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.
The huge 17th century building was one of a number of buildings across Medway which the author drew on for his books. And its fame doesn't end there.
Previous owners include Rod Hull - a man who shot to fame with his arm up the backside of Emu.
Fans of Great Expectations haven't far to go to see other key sites too.
The Guildhall in Rochester was the inspiration for where main character Pip was apprentice to the local blacksmith, while a trip up the road leads you to St James' Church in Cooling - the setting for the memorable opening scene.
And while we're on Dickens, Bleak House in Broadstairs was a popular haunt of the author - who regularly holidayed there - but it was then called Fort House and only took its current name after his death. The one in the book is based, apparently, on a house in St Albans.
Goodnestone Park, Canterbury
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every county likes to lay some claim to having inspired Jane Austen. And Kent is certainly no exception.
And it seems we have a decent claim in the form of Goodnestone Park, between Canterbury and Dover.
The author was a regular visitor after her brother married into the family which owned the estate. In fact, her brother had a double wedding ceremony with his wife's sister also tying the knot. Sound similar to a certain double wedding in Pride and Prejudice?
That wedding took place in 1791 and only a few years later Austen started working on what would become her endearing masterpiece.
Slaybrook Hall, Hythe
During the Second World War the flamboyant playwright Noël Coward penned Blithe Spirit, a comic play about a socialite and novelist who invites a clairvoyant in a bid to conduct a séance to help him gather inspiration for his next book, only for him to become haunted by his late first wife.
And, it is said 15th century Slaybrook Hall in Hythe was - at least partially - the inspiration behind the house in which it is set. And just in case you want to buy a slice of history, the hall is currently on the market...for just under £1.4million.
Great Maytham Hall, Rolvenden
After many years living abroad - and following the success of her children's book Little Lord Fauntleroy in 1885 - author and playwright Frances Hodgson Burnett moved to Great Maytham Hall in Rolvenden, near Cranbrook, in 1898 where she would live for the next nine years.
It was during her time there she discovered the country house's old walled garden which dated back to the early 18th century. She found a door hidden amongst the ivy and set about restoring the garden. And it was there, inspired by her efforts, she penned perhaps her most famous book - the Secret Garden.
Today the house has been converted into apartments.
More by this authorChris Britcher
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