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30 NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2011 REVIEW / SPRING 201131BELMONT HOUSEdistinctive silver servicecommissioned from Storr,Mortimer and Hunt of NewBond Street in 1847, stillto be seen in the DiningRoom at Belmont. Eachitem was struck with hiscoat of arms and thestylised tiger stripe motiftaken from Tipu's tiger,which General Harrishad taken as the familycrest when he wascreated First BaronHarris of Seringapatamand Mysore, and ofBelmont, in 1815.Remembered for initiating the systemof bringing Indian indentured servants toTrinidad, the 3rd Lord Harris thentravelled to India, serving as Governor inMadras during the challenging period ofthe Sepoy Revolt. In the next generation,4th Lord Harris George Robert Canningwas active in Indian affairs as Under-Secretary of State and Governor-Generalof Bombay 1890-1895; however, he ismost warmly remembered for his passionfor cricket, for setting up the Kent-basedBand of Brothers and for entertaining theWest Indian team at Belmont in 1923,including the talented young LearieConstantine, at a time when this wasseen as a white man's game. All of thesefamily episodes are captured at Belmont in photographs andmemorabilia; his cricket pitch has beenrestored and welcomes visiting teams. Hospitality always featured strongly inlife at Belmont. Even in 1809-10, duringthe Napoleonic Wars, young bride Elizadescribed house parties of 29 guests.The tradition extended to the localvillagers, too. When the 5th Lord Harrisreminisced about life between the wars,he recalled the strong tradition of familyresponsibility forlocal welfare in a rural area. "Beaters forshooting days might number as many asa hundred when times were hard." Healso described a regular annual festivity:"What they called a school feast - thechildren of Throwley village and Eastling.About 120 used to come, play gamesand competitions on the cricket ground,then have a big feast."The house, furnished largely in theearly 19th century, but with colourfulAgra-woven carpets and carved Indianchairs, is best known among specialistsfor its excellent collection of clocks,formed by the 5th Lord Harris. Apartfrom those on show around the house,there is a dedicated clock museum onthe first floor. Outside, with itsarboretum, pinetum, shell grotto, icehouse, orchards and extensive walledgardens, Belmont is well worth a visit.The walled kitchen garden was restoredas a Millennium project and gardentours are an enjoyable extra feature.Belmont's park and gardens, run byprivate trust administrator Andrea Davies,are open all year round and are often thesetting for country fairs and costumedRegency days. Plans are already beingconsidered for celebrating the victoryat Waterloo on 18 June 2015, the200th anniversary of the battle. Thefuture 2nd Lord Harris commandedthe 2nd Battalion of the 73rdRegiment of Foot; appropriately, asoldier in the regimental colourssupports the shield of arms grantedthat year to his father. The house isopen to visitors on summerweekends, with specialist clocktours led once a month by theHonorary Curator of the NationalMaritime Museum, JonathanBetts. Conservation of the contentsis an ongoing priority for trustees. Agreat curiosity, the silver inlaid armour of Tipu Sultan, inscribed with invocations,has recently been cleaned and put onshow. The collections have alsobenefited from the dedicated assistanceof NADFAS Heritage Volunteers over thepast decade. Local book teams helpsort out the extensive Library andreappear each winter. Since early 2010the large collections of Indian andEuropean textiles, silk dresses andofficial costumes, much of it stored formany years in the attics, have beenbenefiting from a NADFAS textileconservation campaign. A team ofseven volunteers is advised by ZenzieTinker, the textile conservation adviser. Above: Cricketmemorabilia from the early20th century;Lord Harris on a ceremonialelephant in India Below:NADFASHeritageVolunteers assistBelmont's textileconservationcampaign