On the eve of World War II, an amazing and rare discovery was found south of Eynsford, a small village town of Sevenoaks. The quite extensive remains of a roman villa found here, but it was not until after the war that the archaeologists could really come and excavate and decipher the treasure left here. Some of the unearthed mosaic that layed here is said to be some of England’s finest and a real hidden gem, and most of which has ancient mythology attached to it.
Archaeologists would argue that even more exciting than discovering the mosaic tiles would be that one of the villas many chambers contained one of the earliest christian chapels which dates back roughly to the 4th century. The chapel was decorated with chi-rho symbols – chi-rho is an ancient monogram and has Christian connections and believed to be a representative of good fortune, this is along with some wall portraits that show Christians praying.
Throughout the villa you are able to see the different chambers, such as sleeping quarters, kitchens, a porch and a series of extensive baths which would include different pools for warm, hot and cold.
Inside the dining room, to which you will see was the center of the main villa and highly decorated with large mosaics, one of those is a representation of the princess Europa ( who was the mother of King Minos of Crete) who is abducted by the god Jupiter – the god of sky and thunder who is disguised as a bull. The other mosaic was of Bellerophon, a hero of Greek mythology and a famous Greek hero that was known of defeating Chimera, whilst being surrounded by four sea creatures. Other tiles around this are of heart, crosses and swastikas.
Historically the villa boasts of 26 rooms, but it was after further excavations took place that they unearthed a mausoleum, a shrine, a kitchen and granary. The villa was constantly being reconstructed until finally in the 5th centry it was destoryed by fire and left abandoned. Until 1958 when it was taken over by the ministry of works, to then be unveiled to the public in 1963. The building is now taken over by the English Heritige for us to visit.
The entire villa is now based in a large visitor center, where you can walk ground level and above the villa in their well informed and designed museum. Along the way around the villa, you are able to read and listen to the interesting and insightful information that is displayed on the walls. You are able to see up close some of the sculptures, trinkets and exhibits that are amazing to see. What we really enjoyed about Lullingstone was the ability to see all of the villa rooms in a birds eye view as well as physically walking over some of them, it gives you that real feel and you are able to immerse yourself into the reality back in the day.
Things to note, being an English Heritage member will really help you here, it is £9.90 per adult and a car of £3 per car in the car park, but if you are a member, all of this is free. Overall a visit here i believe is well worth coming too, it was so enjoyable visiting a roman villa that has bags of history and is pretty good condition considering.
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As always, explore, discover and share!