Bateman’s is an early seventeenth-century grey stone lichened house with mullioned windows and oak beams situated in the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald. It is also an authentically preserved writer’s house, lived in by Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), from 1902 until his death. It was bequeathed by his widow, née Caroline ‘Carrie’ Starr Balestier (1862–1939), to the National Trust virtually unchanged. Carrie was encouraged to do so by their daughter and only surviving child, Elsie (1896–1976), Mrs George Bambridge, who also bequeathed Wimpole Hall to the National Trust. The estate includes Mill Park Farm and Dudwell Mill which feature in Kipling’s books ‘Puck of Pook’s Hill’, ‘Rewards and Fairies’ and ‘Below the Mill Dam’.
Rudyard’s father, John Lockwood Kipling (1837–1911) was a sculptor, and had run the Bombay School of Art and his mother’s sisters, Georgiana (1840–1920) and Agnes Macdonald (1843–1906) were both married to artists: Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), 1st Bt, and Sir Edward John Poynter (1836–1919), 1st Bt, PRA, respectively. Although Rudyard was a talented graphic artist himself, he had no particular interest in collecting art. There is a portrait of Carrie Kipling by the Burne-Jones’s son, Sir Philip (1861–1926) as well as two striking portraits of Rudyard Kipling by John Collier (1850–1934). The first, painted in 1891, shows him relaxed in an Indian tunic at the height of his literary success in London, and the second as a more conventional figure, at The Elms, Rottingdean, nine years later.