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Broome Park
in Kent
By Arthur Oswald

Built between 1635 and 1638, Broome Park is one of the finest brick houses of its period. Classical features are far more conspicuous than at Charlton, Somerhill or Chilham: the wall surfaces are divided by pilasters, there is a bold cornice carried unbroken round the whole house and the sky-line is enlivened with a multitude of curved and triangular pediments. All these features are executed in cut and moulded brickwork, admirable for its variety and the excellence of its detail. Despite the advance towards a classical conception of design the inspiration is Dutch rather than Italian. Swakeleys, near Uxbridge, and Kew Palace are houses of a similar type: all three mark the transition from the earlier to the later phase of Renaissance architecture in England. The pleasant variety of features-the brick scrolls to the pediments, for instance, and the diamond and oval-shaped gable lights-shows a freedom and spontaneity in designing which were lost later on.

The house was built by Sir Basil Dixwell, who came of a Warwickshire family, inherited Kent estates from an uncle and was created a baronet. In 1750 it passed to the Oxendens of Dene, one of the oldest county families, one branch of which owned the neighbouring house of Great Maydeken, pulled down a century ago. Before the War it was for a time the home of Lord Kitchener, who carried out certain alterations, putting back mullioned windows, adding a porch and re-designing the back of the house. The interior contains some rooms decorated by James Wyatt (circa 1778) in the style of the Adam brothers. Harris's engraving in Badeslade's Views of Kent Houses gives a good idea of the original lay-out of the garden and grounds in the formal style of the seventeenth century.

Extract from Arthur Oswald’s Country Houses of Kent (1933)

Broome Park is in Barham parish, midway between Canterbury and Dover. It is now a Golf Club and is not open to the public.




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