The magic he felt endures still today through his much-loved Sussex fairy tale collections, Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies.
This December, Christmas celebrations at Bateman’s will pay homage to the enchanting books and their close connection to East Sussex’s fairy lore for the very first time.
The historic collections will cast their magic around Kipling’s family home, where visitors will spy natural handmade miniature decorations and glowing doors to the homes of fairies that live among the books on the author’s very own shelves.
Louise Brangwin, Christmas Champion at Bateman’s, has spent months working with a team of local volunteers at the National Trust property to create a true ‘fairy tale Christmas’, inspired by the historic myths and magic that Kipling so loved.
From cooking pine cones to crafty carpentry, turning books into baubles to lighting up fairy homes, there is no stone left unturned as they have brought Kipling’s tales to life.
“Kipling often drew upon the local Sussex landscape for his writing” she says. “By looking outside to the beautiful countryside surrounding Bateman’s, we’re bringing a sense of magic and winter warmth into the house.”
Sussex has a long, rich history of fairies and fairy tales. Legend has it that it was the last place in England inhabited by fairies before they left forever. Indeed Kipling’s Sussex fairy tales are deeply rooted in the county’s fairy lore; ‘Puck’ or ‘Pook’, is believed to derive from the Saxon word ‘Puca’, meaning a Goblin*. There are many place names still across Sussex which feature these words.
The Sussex fairy tales that lie at the heart of Bateman’s Christmas were inspired by the fun and games Kipling had with his children there, Elsie and John. The very beginnings of these stories come to light in a letter from Elsie, where she wrote,