Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show,
Of touch or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polished pillars, or a roof of gold;
Thou hast no lantern, whereof tales are told,
Or stair, or courts; but stand’st an ancient pile,
And, these grudged at, art reverenced the while.
Thou joy’st in better marks, of soil, of air,
Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair.
The first few lines of the poem ‘To Penshurst’ by Ben Jonson published in 1616 illustrate how highly the poet regarded the beautiful country house Penshurst. By virtue of disregarding what makes other houses, it is, in Jonson’s opinion, far superior.
I went to Kent for a long weekend away in the countryside and my first stop was the fascinating Penshurst Place.