Picturesque village

Godmersham: The little Kent village you never knew featured on the £ 10 note

Godmersham is one of the smallest villages in Kent, but this picturesque hamlet on the banks of the Stour has a much bigger history than first impressions would suggest.

In fact, it’s small enough that it doesn’t even have its own demographic statistics, with the civil parish encompassing neighboring Bilting bringing the total population of the two villages to just 376.

If that doesn’t sound particularly unique, consider this: Fordwich, Britain’s smallest town with a city council, is five more people than Bilting and Godmersham combined.

The parish does not have a school, as it closed its doors in 1946, it has not had a store or post office since 1982, and is part of the small minority of civil parishes that does not even have no ads.

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While the absolute absence of anything other than a 12th century Norman church and a handful of houses might make Godmersham look mundane, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

No, it’s not an insignificant place at all – in fact, it’s immortalized in British literary fiction, and perhaps more importantly, Godmersham Park, the neighboring stately home is on the £ 10 note.

Edward Austen Knight and Mansfield Park

Godmersham Park was once owned by a certain Edward Austen Knight, having been built in 1732 by Thomas May, a Conservative politician.

Edward Austen Knight isn’t necessarily famous per se, being the High Sheriff of Kent for a brief period in the early 1800s.

It is claimed that Godmersham Park and the surrounding village inspired one of Jane Austen's greatest works.
It is claimed that Godmersham Park and the surrounding village inspired one of Jane Austen’s greatest works.

However, his sister was rather more famous and was none other than Jane Austen, author of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.

Although Austen was never a permanent resident of Godmersham, she was a regular visitor and the place left such an impression on her that it became the inspiration for one of her other most important works, Mansfield Park.

Like many of his other novels, Mansfield Park was essentially a critique of the Landlord nobility who occupied the stately homes of England at the time, and was adapted for television in 2007 with Billie Piper.

An earlier adaptation for BBC Radio 4 also had a star cast including Felicity Jones, David Tennant, and then the relatively unknown Benedict Cumberbatch.

Godmersham is clearly the basis of the decor, with mentions of the building’s unique architecture, as well as characters loosely based on those present when Jane Austen visited the mansion.

The £ 10 note

Godmersham has transcended his rather impressive position in literature, however, becoming so mainstream that you barely notice him day to day.

The building appears alongside Jane Austen on the new £ 10 banknote which entered circulation in 2017, following its announcement in 2013.

Godmersham has appeared on the £ 10 banknote since 2017.
Godmersham has appeared on the £ 10 banknote since 2017.

Appearing alongside a portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, a character from Pride and Prejudice, Godmersham Park House takes pride of place on the note, alongside a quote from one of Austen’s most famous characters.

“I declare after all that there is no pleasure like reading!”, A quote from Miss Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, completes the homage to Austen’s literary genius.

While too small for a school, store, or even pub, the next time you browse your wallet for a pint or coffee, remember that a tiny bit of Kent’s rich history is imprinted on every tenner. in England.

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