Hedgerow management at Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle are delighted to be promoting…

The South Of England Hedge Laying Society (SEHLS)

Annual Hedge Laying Competition

Sunday 21 February, 9am – 4pm

Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst Kent TN3 8JN

“This is a great opportunity for the public to see some of the best quality hedge laying in the country and learn more about the craft which is enjoying something of a renaissance.” SEHLS President Peter Tunks

National Trust Volunteer Estate Guides will be running guided walks to the site throughout the day.

For more information please visit: www.sehls.co.uk

John Davis - Tilers Field Jan 2015

I thought that it would be a good idea to write a blog about hedgerows, their management and benefits on the Scotney Castle Estate.

Hedgerow history in the High Weald

Hedgerows have been an intrinsic part of the British landscape for thousands of years; their shape, function and history however differ in each region.

In the High Weald landscape, hedgerows were often relics of slow, small scale woodland clearance by the Anglo-Saxons, where boundaries were formed by leaving strips of woodland in-between the newly created agricultural fields1. These hedges, or Shaws, therefore were made up of mainly tree species and were not often straight or uniform, but were subsequently managed as hedgerows for livestock enclosure.

It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th Centuries that planted hedges, usually of Hawthorn, appeared through the Enclosures Act, although these are uncommon in the High Weald.

Since the mechanisation of agriculture post World War Two, hedgerows were removed to allow larger fields and therefore more efficient farming. Added to this, the invention of barbed wire fences has seen over 300,000 miles of hedgerow lost since 1945.2

Hedgerow Wildlife

When woodlands were cleared, wildlife was forced to seek sanctuary in the newly created hedgerows and many have become reliant on this ‘secondary woodland’ habitat for nesting, dispersal and food. Species at Scotney include Dormice, Great crested newts, Brimstone butterflies and Whitethroats. The RSPB claim that 80% of our woodland birds, 50% of our mammals and 30% of our butterflies utilise hedgerows.3 A hedgerow with a diverse mix of trees and shrubs provide more potential for different wildlife to flourish.

Hedgerow planting at Scotney Castle

Several kilometres of hedges have been planted at Scotney Castle over the last few years, this has enabled wildlife corridors to criss-cross the whole estate. A mix of species have been planted including hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, spindle, hornbeam and hazel. Thank you to TCV and the Heritage Lottery Fund for providing whips and volunteers, alongside our regular volunteers, to fulfil this aim.

Hedge-laying at Scotney Castle

As hedgerows were established they then had to be managed, laying and coppicing are typical techniques, with regional styles developing across the country. The invention of the mechanical flail however has made hedgerows look uniform across our landscape. At Scotney Castle, alongside the South of England Hedgelaying Society (SEHLS) we have been laying hedges in order to preserve this ancient technique that goes as far back as Roman times.

In the ‘southern’ style the stem of each individual tree is ‘pleached’ and laid in the same direction, providing a thick barrier beneficial for wildlife and livestock control. Then hazel or willow stakes and binders, coppiced on site or from local woodlands, are added giving the hedge extra height and strength.

Thank you for reading.


1 – Hedges in the Weald, http://www.Highweald.org

2 – Hedgerows in the High Weald landscape http://www.highweald.org

3 – Value of hedgerows for wildlife, http://www.RSPB.org.uk

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The High Sheriff of Kent


Flag cropped

When I hear the word Sheriff, my mind turns to the Sheriff of Nottingham overtaxing his subjects for which Robin Hood set out to rectify by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. One of the responsibilities of a Sheriff of a County was to in fact collect taxes; although perhaps not going to the extremes as the famous Sheriff of Nottingham.

The term Sheriff comes from the word ‘Shire Reeve’ or the Anglo Saxon ‘Scir-gerefa’, a person of authority (reeve) appointed by the Crown to keep the peace over an area or county (shire).[1] The practice of appointing Sheriffs has been going for over 1000 years, dating back to the Anglo-Saxon times. Sheriffs were recorded in the Battle of Hastings as well as being referred to in the Magna Carta of 1215.[2]

These agents of the Crown had many responsibilities including overseeing courts, collecting taxes, and looking after land. These responsibilities have been restricted over the years with the introduction of new law and revenue structures, for example Henry I transferred the tax collecting role from the Sheriff to the Exchequer.[3] Today the High Sheriff has an honorary position within a county and supports voluntary work and crime prevention schemes.

Sheriffs are nominated annually for the position. From the Sheriff’s act of 1887, nominations should be made on the 12th November with three nominations for each county.[4] The list of candidates is drawn up and presented to representatives of the Sovereign in March at a meeting of the Privy Council.

The successful candidate is chosen by the process of ‘pricking’. This is done by pricking the parchment with a silver bodkin next to the name of the chosen candidate. The practice of ‘pricking’ is said to date back to Elizabeth I; when she was employed in embroidery and was asked to choose the Sheriffs she pricked the vellum parchment with her silver bodkin.[5] However, the process of ‘pricking’ may have come before this anecdote as parchments from Henry VII’s reign, Queen’s Elizabeth I’s grandfather, have also been pricked.[6]

Another explanation for the pricking of the vellum was that it could not be repaired, whereas a mark in ink could be removed, as being selected as the High Sheriff was not always well received. When elected as the High Sheriff there were financial implications, shouldering some of the cost as well as trouble in duties such as collecting taxes. The pricking of the vellum therefore could not be erased and the chosen Sheriff was obliged to carry out their post, with cost being one of the reasons that the post was only for a year


The post of the High Sheriff also comes with its own ceremonial uniform, known as the Court Dress. The dress includes a black or blue velvet coat, breeches, sword and a cocked hat. When Court Dress is not worn, The High Sheriff wears a badge of office on a ribbon.




Country life -Christopher Sheriff

Country Life Magazine, May 1979




Two members of the Hussey family at Scotney Castle have been appointed High Sheriff of Kent. Edward Windsor Hussey was appointed Sheriff in 1907,[7] while his nephew Christopher Hussey was appointed Sheriff in 1963.[8]

We currently have Edward Windsor Hussey’s coat and hat and Christopher Hussey’s badge on display this month in our Hidden Collection display case for you to see. Watch this space for more of our hidden collection items coming on display soon…

[1] http://www.highsheriffs.com/History.htm

[2] http://www.highsheriffs.com/History.htm

[3] http://www.highsheriffs.com/History.htm

[4] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/50-51/55/contents#attrib

[5] http://www.highsheriffs.com/History.htm

[6] http://www.highsheriffs.com/History.htm

[7] The London Gazette: no. 28000. p. 1462. 1 Mar 1907.

[8] The London Gazette: no. 42955. p. 2823. 29 March 1963.


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Nervous Disorders


This small and unassuming box squirreled away in our attics contains something rather interesting. Aside from an unusual handle on the outside, the wooden exterior does not elude to the intricate contraption inside. Once opened, instructions attached to the lid of the box in bright, bold letters reads:



My first reaction to the box was one of mixed emotions. I was immediately struck by the sophistication of the machine’s compact design and of the technology needed to make the device. I then thought of the theories surrounding the creation of such a machine for ‘nervous disorders’ and wanted to find out more…

The late nineteenth century saw advancements in electrotherapy in a therapeutic setting. This growth was due to numerous experiments conducted in the early 1800s, which were based on the idea that nerves were electrically excitable.[1] This logic led some physicians and scientists to believe that electrical stimulation could correct a nervous defect.[2] It was widely thought that the body had a natural amount of electricity and that nervous disorders caused an upset to this balance. The magneto-electric machines attempted to stabilize the body’s believed electrical nervous energy.


In England, the first ‘static’ machines were used in 1767 at Middlesex hospital and later at St. Bartholomew’s in 1777.[3] An important figure in support of these machines was the founder of the Methodist Church John Wesley (1703-1791), who was also an aspiring physicist. He believed that there was ‘no remedy in nature for nervous disorders of every kind, comparable to the proper and consistent use of the electrical machine’.[4] He also stated that fifty to one hundred shocks should be used in one session to cure a particular ailment.[5] In 1787, a description of these electrical machines further claimed that ‘nervous head-aches are often mitigated and entirely relieved by the electric wind from a metallic or wooden point applied at successively round the head’.[6]

Ideas surrounding electricity and its use on the human body inspired novelists such as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851). Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, the famous story of a ‘mad’ scientist creating a life form by piecing together human body parts and using electricity as a stimulant. Shelley was only twenty-one at the time of publication and was clearly intrigued by the scientific experiments of the day. On writing Frankenstein, she wrote:


‘[P]erhaps a corpse could be re-animated … galvanism had given token to such things’[7]

Galvanism (the contraction of muscle by the use of an electrical current) was an important element to the story of Frankenstein. Named after Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) the discovery did much to capture the imagination of the public. In 1780, Galvani revealed that dead frog’s legs jumped when an electrical spark was introduced.[8] His findings contributed to early bio-electric studies and with Shelley’s galvanism inspired novel, the public’s fancies soon turned to images such as cartoons of corpse’s coming into life.


Shelley wrote about her monster Frankenstein:

‘I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion’.[9]

The story is famous even today –  with many film adaptations, most notably Universal Studio’s Frankenstein (1931) and Victor Frankenstein (2015) starring Daniel Radcliffe, revealing the fictional horrors of creating life through the power of electricity.

In some ways it is surprising that despite such fanatical media attention, the use of electricity as a means of curing an illness was widely taken up. Above is a photograph of the Magneto-Electric machine found in Scotney Castle’s ‘Hidden Collection’. There are instructions attached to the inside lid of the wooden box that outline how to use the contraption to cure toothache, tie-doloreux and neuralgia (to name a few). There are also quotes written on these instructions, including one from a famous contemporary doctor, Dr. John Abernathy (1764-1831). The quote was taken from a lecture of his that was published in the popular newspaper The Lancet, and says ‘all other means operate on the surface of the body but electricity will pervade the very centre of the body’.[10]

Portrait of Dr John Abernathy

Abernathy had a celebrity status, not onlydue to his unique lecturing style, but also through his eccentric and blunt delivery when treating his patients. Originally conducted in his house, his lectures became so popular that he had a theatre built to keep up with demand, which led to Abernathy becoming the founder of St Bartholomew’s medical school.[11] The instructions further promote Dr Abernathy as ‘World Celebrated’ in an attempt to give the machine credibility. Indeed many would have known of his status and with his quote endorsing the magneto-electric machine, patients would have trusted its capabilities.


The drawings that feature on the top left and right hand corner of the instructions depict how the machine and its components should be used. There appears to be a variety of ways in which a person can apply the machine, such as either standing up, sitting down or even attaching the wires to your foot. It surprises me that toothache should be deemed an ailment curable by the ‘electric’ machine – it sounds like a rather unpleasant solution to the problem!

There is much to say about this strange and unique object. It embodies theories and scientific understandings that have now become outdated. For me, the machine is terrifying and fascinating at the same time. It has a history that is shrouded in misguided scientific perspective and mystery. It is an interesting item in the Hussey’s ‘hidden collection’ and an important symbol of scientific discovery in the early twentieth century.

[1] S. Finger, Origins of Neuroscience: A History of Explorations into Brain Function (Oxford, 2001) p.434

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid, p.432

[4] J. Weasley, Primitive Physik (1761, London) p.87

[5] Ibid

[6] S. Finger, Origins of Neuroscience, p.431

[7] M. Jenkins, Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend (Washington, 2010) p.68

[8] Wikipedia, Luigi Galvani  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Galvani (Last Accessed 6 January 2016)

[9] Wikiquote, Frankenstein (novel) https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Frankenstein_(novel) (Last Accessed 6 January 2016)

[10] The Lancet, ‘Surgical Lectures delivered by Mr. Abernethy’ (5 November 1824) p.105

[11] Wikipedia, John Abernethy (surgeon) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Abernethy_(surgeon) (Last Accessed 6 January 2016)

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1920s Flapper Fashion

Tucked away in our hidden collection is an assortment of dresses from a range of eras. The twentieth century has seen a multitude of iconic looks – the poodle skirt of the 1950s, the shoulder pads of the 1980s, Madonna’s cone bra in the 1990s – with each fashion statement attempting to break the boundaries of the previous. Arguably, one of the most iconic dresses in history can be seen in our winter exhibition – the ‘Flapper Dress’.

Flapper dress

1920s ‘flapper’ dresses worn by five socialites

The word ‘flapper’ was a slang term for describing a young woman – comparing her to a young bird flapping its wings as it learns to fly.[1] However an earlier, and less complimentary form of the word, came from the English slang for a prostitute or as the term became softened – any lively young teenager. I like to think that the term derived from the flapping new dances of the 1920s, such as the Charleston, to which the dresses lend themselves incredibly well. Indeed with Jazz music becoming increasingly popular, it was important to have dresses that were more mobile to cope with the high energy dances.

BrownOrange sparkly 1920s dress

A beaded, orange 1920s dress from Scotney Castle’s ‘Hidden Collection’

The 1920s has been regarded by historians as a time of change and liberation for women. Although women over the age of 30 could vote under the Representation of the People Act in 1918, by 1928 women over the age of 21 were able to vote – equalling the same voting terms as men.[2] Women had, to some extent, become more independent after the First World War, as many worked in munitions factories to support the war effort. In America one in four women over the age of sixteen were in the workforce, a dramatic increase of 50%.[3] The traditional role of housewife and male worker had been usurped, with many women having been given a taste of independence. This change in attitude amongst women became reflected in the fashions of the era – the loose fitting dresses compared to the corseted and restrictive dresses of the Victorian era. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ made famous even then by books such as ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925) and iconic film actresses such as Clara Bow, created an ideal of feminine beauty that was full of glamour and charm. Although it did not happen overnight, the slim fit, loose waist and shortened hems of the 1920s can be seen taken up by the general population as the era continued. This was partly down to famous fashion designers of the 20s such as Coco Chanel, Madeline Vionnet, Paul Poriet and Jeanne Lanvin who paved the direction of fashion towards this feminine ideal.

coc chanel

Coco Chanel and the famous ‘Chanel’ monochrome look

I find Coco Chanel’s history particularly interesting. Born in 1883 to a poor family, she learnt to sew at a young age at a convent in Aubazine, where at the age of twelve Chanel and her two sisters grew up when her mother died. When Chanel left the convent she worked as a seamstress and sang in a cabaret – where she got her nickname ‘Coco’ (most likely from popular sings she was associated with such as ‘Ko Ko Ri Ko’).[4] Her designs were very much the modern woman of the age as she promoted the colours usually associated with flappers in her clothing line. As a pioneer of fashion she later invented the LBD (Little Black Dress) and was a fan of the cloche hat, which was usually pulled low over the eyes. In many ways women’s clothing and appearance became more relaxed and with it a persona that was more masculine – the bobbed hair and unisex jumper.

bright young people article.jpg

An article re-telling the turning away of seven ‘Bright Young People’ from a party they arrived to unannounced (1920s)

The term ‘Bright Young Things’ was introduced by the tabloid in the 1920s in reference to a generation of elaborate young socialites who liked to throw extravagant parties.[5] Flappers fitted perfectly into this category, with their beaded, loose fitting clothes embodying a carefree lifestyle. Icons of this movement included celebrities such as Nancy Mitford, Robert Byron and Evelyn Waugh all of who lived up to this ‘modern’ expectation.


1920s ‘flapper’ dress on show at Scotney Castle’s Arthur’s War exhibition

The flapper’s dress that we have on show in our exhibition most likely belonged to Betty as a teenager. With a beige almost see-through inner lining, it is quite risqué even by today standards, and is covered in beads and sequins to create an elegant evening outfit. It has all the characteristics of a stunning flapper’s dress – a low waist, raised hem and slim fit – and is iconic of the 20s era. It is not hard to imagine a young socialite, such as Betty, getting dressed up for an evening of fun and entertainment.

The 1920s was a fascinating era and was perhaps a turning point for women in terms of independence. The flapper dress was, and still is, a symbol of a changing concept of feminine beauty and it is exciting to see this change from within the Hussey family itself.


[1] Wikipedia, ‘Flapper’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flapper (Last Accessed 23 December 2015)

[2] Parliament.uk, ‘1918 Representation of the People Act’ http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/case-study-the-right-to-vote/the-right-to-vote/birmingham-and-the-equal-franchise/1918-representation-of-the-people-act/

[3] D. Fisk, ‘American Labor in the 20th Century’, http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/american-labor-in-the-20th-century.pdf

[4] Wikipedia, ‘Coco Chanel’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coco_Chanel (Last Accessed 29th December 2015)

[5] Historic UK, ‘Bright Young Things’ http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Bright-Young-Things/ (Last Accessed 23 December 2015)

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An Unusual Find…

Scotney Castle’s hidden collection can often bring to light many unusual objects. In particular, an item that we have on display as part of our winter exhibition is one that can make some visitors squirm. At first glance, its sparkling brass exterior could suggest its use as a flask or even a small fire extinguisher. Upon closer inspection, this rather peculiar item, is in fact an enema.

The word ‘enema’ derives from the seventeenth-century Greek word ‘I inject’ and has been used throughout the centuries. Less sophisticated versions of the modern enema were made of a simple pig’s bladder. The liquid would have been squeezed out of the pig’s bladder and through a short tube. King Henry VIII often had this form of enema administered by the Groom of the Stool (a seemingly unenviable position by modern standards, but a highly desirable status in the Tudor Court).[1]

groom of the stool

Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin (Groom of the Stool to George II)

Ancient Egyptians regularly used the practice of enemas, believing it to be beneficial for the body. A typical doctor in ancient Egyptian times would have specialised in one area of the body, such as the eyes or mouth. The Pharaoh would have consulted many different doctors and one that would have been particularly important was the ‘Keeper of the Royal Rectum’.[2] The creation of the enema in Ancient Egyptian times was accredited to the God of Thoth, who was also believed to be the founder of science, philosophy, magic and religion.[3] The Greek author ‘Herodotus’ wrote that people ‘purge[d] themselves, for their health’s sake with emetics and clysters’ and the process seems to be one that was widely practised.[4]

Rather bizarrely, tobacco enemas were used during the 17th and 18th centuries and were referred to as ‘resuscitation kits’. It was believed that through the act of insufflation, a person who had drowned could be resuscitated back to life. It was believed that the heat provided by the tobacco smoke would warm the patient up and restore them back to full health. Dotted along the edge of the Thames were such kits (provided by the Royal Humane Society) ready to be used at a moment’s notice.


A sketch of a tobacco enema (taken apart)

Indeed, the strange case of Anne Green suggests that the tobacco enema could be used for other reasons. In 1651 Anne was condemned to hang having been found guilty of infanticide and hiding the body in her employer’s house. She was hung and given over to two doctors, Thomas Willis and William Petty for dissection. They found her still alive and used a variety of techniques to revive her, including a heated ‘odoriferous clyster to give her warmth to her bowels’.[5] According to contemporary accounts she survived the ordeal and went on to bear three children. Many would have heard or read the story pertaining to Anne Green, due to its widespread circulation in pamphlets, and it is interesting to see the mention of an ‘odorierous clyster’ as a means of reviving someone back to life.


In the eighteenth century the use of enemas was still prominent, albeit sometimes with negative connotations. A theatre production of The Golden Rump (a farcical play about the Royal family) scandalously suggested that the Queen Caroline administered enemas to the King George II. The ludicrous nature of the play prompted the Licensing Act of 1737, implemented by the Prime Minister of the time, Robert Walpole, which censored plays that were deemed too shocking.


Author of Common Sense, The Festival of the Golden Rump (Published by Act of Parliament, 1737)

The central character in this satirical depiction of The Golden Rump is meant to be George II. To the right of him is Queen Caroline, who appears to be injecting ‘a Golden Tube… with a large Bladder at the End, resembling a common Clyster-Pipe’ into the Pagod’s Rump, ‘to comfort his Bowels, and to appease the Idol, when he lifted up his cloven Foot to correct his Domesticks’.[6] The concoction administered by Queen Caroline was an enema of “Aurum potabile” (a flavoured brandy) and the depiction is one that is not kind. The curtain which is draped in the foreground of the etching is further embellished with golden rumps, adding to the grotesque and outlandish nature of the act.

Although no manuscripts survive of the play today, the contents of the play were widely known and was extremely damaging to the reputation of the Royal family.

The Victorian enema that we have on display in our current winter exhibition is a glistening example of an expensive and flamboyant enema that could be used in the comfort of your own home. It was made by the London Company Philip and Whicker and is described as a pneumatic safety enema. It has various nozzles, most likely made of ivory that can be taken apart from the main machine. It is in good condition and has a paper patent tucked away in the box.

enema front

Scotney Castle’s Victorian enema, complete with paper patent

Below is a domestic enema made between 1831 – 35 in London by a medical supplier called ‘Maw’. It was named ‘Maw’s Domestic Medical Machine’ as a polite alternative to the term enema and is made from wood with an ivory tip.[7] Scotney Castle’s enema also has an ivory nozzle, but the main machine was made of brass rather than wood. Both are very different in designs, but which were fashionable during the 19th century as it was believed to rejuvenate the body and increase sexual potency.

wooden enema

‘Maw’s Domestic Medical Machine’ (19th century)

In the nineteenth century many affluent people used self-administered enemas, but the habit could also prove to be detrimental to a person’s health. Although enemas have clear health benefits, if administered incorrectly or too frequently, the side effects can result in internal bleeding or exposure to intestinal bacteria.

Although enemas are a topic not for the faint-hearted, they have a fascinating history and are an insight the quirky fashions of the upper classes.


[1] L. Wolsey, ‘Henry VIII’s enemas’, http://www.lucyworsley.com/henry-viiis-enemas/ (Last Accessed 2015)

[2] Wikipedia, ‘Enema’, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enema (Last Accessed 2015)

[3] Ibid

[4] WordPress, ‘Daily Life in Ancient Egypt’ (2015) http://uncouthreflections.com/2014/03/16/daily-life-in-ancient-egypt/

[5] T. Hughes, ‘Miraculous Deliverance Of Anne Green: An Oxford Case Of Resuscitation In The Seventeenth Century’, British Medical Journal (1982) p.1783

[6] P. Thomson, ‘Magna Farta: Walpole and the Golden Rump’, Keith Cameron (ed), Humour and History. Oxford: Intellect (1993) p.125-6

[7] Wellcome Images, ‘Domestic enema, London, England, 1831-1835’

http://www.diomedia.com/stock-photo-domestic-enema-london-england-1831-1835-image19940453.html (2105)

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Winter Warmer Blog

As winter approaches and it’s time to pack away our summer clothes, I found myself thinking about how the Hussey family kept warm at Scotney Castle during the colder months of the year. There are numerous objects dotted around the house that hint towards the use of items to stay warm such as flasks and blankets in the frostier weather. In particular, Betty Hussey’s pink electric blanket made me think about the development and variety of heating methods over the centuries.

I started my research looking into the history of the first electric blanket. It was invented by American physician Sidney I. Russell in 1912. Although its simple design bears little resemblance to the electric blankets we are familiar with today, it was originally intended as a means of keeping sick patients warm. These heating instruments were usually referred to as ‘warming pads’ or ‘heated quilts’, as the term ‘electric blanket’ was not properly in use until the 1950s. It was initially designed to heat up a mattress from underneath and was more of a warming pad than a blanket. Electric blankets have been used for a variety of functions over the years, from keeping tuberculosis patients warm to ‘electrically warm’ suits for pilots in World War Two.

ffighter pilot

Flight suit worn in 1925

During the 1920s-30s, these ‘warming pads’ were primarily used by Tuberculosis patients who were routinely prescribed lots of fresh air, and even to sleep outside. Russell’s design allowed patients to keep warm in extreme temperatures and soon became a common sighting in Tuberculosis sanatoriums. One article published in April 1930 advertises the blanket for this particular use at home;

‘Sleeping in comfort with windows open in the coldest weather is made possible with an electric blanket now on the market which is particularly adapted for the use of persons whose health requires much fresh air, even in zero weather’.[1]

It can be seen that early advertisements for electric blankets focused on their advantages from a medical perspective, for those ‘whose health requires much fresh air’. As these blankets became more widely known, a more general approach to the marketing of these blankets was taken. Instead of aiming for its use for sick patients, it was advertised as a means of having a more comfortable sleep. Today, it is usually associated with this use, but their popularity has declined in recent years.

Electric blanket

Betty Hussey’s electric blanket, shown in a display case at Scotney Castle

The last owner of Scotney Castle, Betty Hussey, owned a bright pink electric blanket which is currently on display in the kitchen. It was bought in 1969 from Boots and is usually kept in its original packaging. Blankets made before 2001 are considered fire hazards, as many do not have a shut-off mechanism. In the USA as many as 5,000 fires a year were thought to have been caused by electric blankets prior to 2001, with blankets more than ten years old being the cause of many of these.[2] Betty’s electric blanket manages the amount of current entering into the heat elements of the blanket. However, as it was made prior to 2001, it is still a high fire risk and would not be safe to use in the house today.

Another popular, and perhaps more common ‘winter warmer’, is the hot water bottle. More sophisticated versions of hot water bottles have been around since the 16th century.[3] They were originally made of stone or contained hot coals and were used to warm the bed. Other early hot water bottles were made from a variety of materials such as zinc, copper or wood and covered with a soft cloth bag to prevent burning.[4] Interestingly, Queen Elizabeth II had a copper hot water bottle strapped under the seat of the Gold Stage Coach to keep her warm during her Coronation in 1953![5]

Hot water bottle in a textile cover.

Hot water bottle in a textile cover.

Rubber hot water bottles were introduced in the Victorian period and were an extremely popular choice in the cold months. Modern hot water bottles were patented in 1903 and are made from natural rubber or PVC, which is then draped in a textile cover. Scotney Castle has two hot water bottles that once belonged to Betty Hussey; one of which is currently on show in the Kitchen.

egg coies

Whilst cleaning the contents of the Butler’s Pantry, I came across a number of fun and colourful egg cosies. Egg cosies were often matched with tea-cosies and were popular in the Victorian period. It is quite amusing to think of the often perceived strict Victorians keeping their eggs warm with egg cosies – even eggs got a woolly hat to keep them warm!


Thermal flasks are another popular way in which to keep warm over winter. The word ‘thermos’ derives from the Greek word ‘therme’ meaning ‘hot’ and is the brand name for a vacuum flask. However, these containers are often referred to as Dewar flasks by Chemists in recognition to its inventor James Dewar. There are a number of flasks in Scotney Castle’s collection, of which two are in our Kitchen display. Thermoses have been in circulation since 1904 and are now a common addition in any household.

It has been fascinating researching the history of ‘winter warmer’ items and seeing their presence here at Scotney Castle – and even Puss has her own hot water bottle!



‘Electric sleeping blanket for Winter Weather’ Popular Mechanics (April, 1930) p.542

‘Hot Water Bottlees’, GB Antiques Centre (2011) http://www.gbantiquescentre.com/collectablesf41bf41b.html?id=10

Jones. B, Lewis. C, The Bumper Book of London: Everything You Need to Know About London and More… (London, 2012) p.99


[1] ‘Electric sleeping blanket for Winter Weather’ Popular Mechanics (April, 1930) p.542

[2] ‘Electric Blanket’, How Products Are Made (2015) http://www.madehow.com/Volume-6/Electric-Blanket.html

[3] ‘Hot Water Bottlees’, GB Antiques Centre (2011) http://www.gbantiquescentre.com/collectablesf41bf41b.html?id=10

[4] Ibid

[5] B. Jones, C. Lewis, The Bumper Book of London: Everything You Need to Know About London and More… (London, 2012) p.99

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Ranger Round Up

The ranger team have had a busy summer out on the Scotney Castle estate, and as we now are turning into autumn I thought it might be good to round up some of the highlights…

June – Gates and Butterflies

This gate on the Parkland Trail was a rickety stile before the hard work of volunteers. Photo by S. Rolfe.

This gate on the Parkland Trail was a rickety stile before the hard work of volunteers. Photo by S. Rolfe.

Before this boardwalk/bridge the section of the Hop Trail was particularly muddy, hopefully this will allow walkers to pass with greater ease.

Before this boardwalk this section of the Hop Trail was particularly muddy, hopefully now walkers can pass with greater ease. Photo by S. Rolfe.

This Elephant Hawkmoth was catured, photographed and released in a moth trap as part of our lepidopteria day. We also went looking for Purple Emperors and Purple Hairstreaks, both of which we saw. Photo by A. Playle.

This Elephant Hawkmoth was captured, photographed and released in a moth trap as part of our ‘Lepidopteria day’. We also went looking for Purple Emperors and Purple Hairstreaks, both of which we saw! Photo by A. Playle.

We hired a tower scaffold to get a better shot of this male Purple Hairstreak

We hired a tower scaffold to get this shot of a (male) Purple Hairstreak. Photo by A. Playle.

August – Meadow Management

Conservation Meadow 2015 Ollie Kemp - 3

This was one of the most interesting projects that was undertaken this summer, and it felt like proper wildlife conservation work. This picture shows our tractor with a hired flail and collect machine on the back. This enabled us to take the ‘green hay’ from the conservation meadow by the house and relocate it on a field elsewhere. The green hay is full of wild flowers and grasses, and by taking it at this stage the seeds should drop out onto the benefiting field and thus improve the wildlife potential. Photo by M. Hackett.

The benefiting field is called Little Ruffets Meadow, in the western corner of the estate. A lot of scrub had to be cleared first before the field was ready to receive the green hay.

The benefiting field is called Little Ruffets Meadow, in the western corner of the estate. A lot of scrub had to be cleared first before the field was ready to receive the green hay. Photo by O. Kemp.

The scrub and grass were cut back and raked off to allow the green hay to be spread as shown here.

The scrub and grass were cut back and raked off to allow the green hay to be spread as shown here. We look forward to next summer to see the results. Photo by S. Rolfe.

September – Hops and Runoffs

This  hop picking season over 700 visitors were taken down to Little Scotney farm to see Hop Picking in action.

This hop picking season over 700 visitors were taken down to Little Scotney farm to see Hop Picking in action.

These 'surface run-offs' are designed to throw the water off into the ditch, to stop the water building momentum and eroding the footpath.

These ‘surface run-offs’ are designed to throw the water off into the ditch, to stop the water building momentum and eroding the footpath. Photo by S. Rolfe.

October – Bug Hunting

These fascinating little creatures are called Parent Bugs, a type of shield bug. They field on Alder and Birch leaves. Seen here still in their juvenile stage. Photo by J. Davis.

These fascinating little creatures are called Parent Bugs, a type of Shield bug. They field on Alder and Birch leaves. Seen here still in their juvenile stage. Photo by J. Davis.

This is the Parent Bug female, who stays with the youngsters protecting them from parasites. The male dies after mating.

This is the Parent Bug female, who stays with the youngsters protecting them from parasites. The male dies after mating. Photo by J. Davis.

Can you count the spots? This 24 Spot Lady bird is the UKs smallest lady bird!

Can you count the spots?
This 24 Spot Lady bird is the UK’s smallest lady bird! Photo by J. Davis.

Thank you for reading and taking an interest in the Scotney Castle Estate.

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