About one mile south west of the village, within the Parish of Doddington, lies a small and pretty hamlet known as Lady Margaret Manor. The estate of Margaret Manor was originally know as Gritt (sometimes spelt Greet or Grete) after Thomas de Grete, the owner in 1327 during the reign of Edward III.
COURTESY OF PERIWINKLE PRESS, NEWNHAM
The property was divided into Great Gritt and Little Gritt. Towards the end of the 14th Century, the Canterbury Pilgrims began to find their way to the Manor where, according to the deeds of the Manor, it was commanded that their needs be supplied in the form of a Ëpaliasse (a straw bed) and a stoup of ale'. The poor went to Little Gritt and the rich to Great Gritt; the pilgrims changed the name of this popular haven to Little Greetynge and Great Greetynge. With the passing of the pilgrims the dual estate
passed into virtual obscurity and little is known of the intervening period. At the turn of this century Dr. Josiah
Oldfield, a world famous dietetic specialist, took up residence. Dr. Oldfield was a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi and while at Oxford University they conspired together to establish the first Fruitarian Society. When Dr. Oldfield first arrived at the estate it was almost derelict and the oast house - now known as Ellens Court - was open at one end allowing carts to enter. Dr. Oldfield set up a hospital here based on a Fruitarian Dietary ('the produce of harvest field, garden, forest and orchard, with milk, butter, cheese, eggs and honey'). The hospital was referred to as a Fruitarian Village consisting of chalets, lodges and cottages where the convalescents and visitors could enjoy the Ílovely woods and valleys, sun traps, hammocks in the woods, sun and air baths, grass baths and dew baths'. The latter no doubt led to rumours and suspicions amongst villagers as to the 'goings on' at the hospital.
Dr. Josiah Oldfield was, however, a dedicated physician and philosopher with a tremendous personality. In 1935, the cottage where he lived was destroyed by fire - along with probably the finest collection of dietetic books in the world.
Tradition has it that the monks from the Abbey or The Maison Dieu at Faversham came across to Great Greetynge on their many journeys and, when the last monk died, the stone hut they had used was turned into a woodshed. It was in 'The Monks Hut' that the Doctor set up home following the destruction of his cottage. It was restored and at one end a bathroom was built and separated from the living area by a wall. There was no door and the only access to the bathroom was through a hole near the eaves of the hut, accessible only by a ladder. This was said to be the DoctorÌs test for rheumatism; as long as he was able to crawl through the hole, he was free of the dreaded disease. Dr. Oldfield died in 1953 - just before his ninetieth birthday - having lived a full and interesting life.
At the beginning of the Second World War, life at the Manor was quiet. Then Ellens Court was taken over by the Stansfield Association, a charitable organisation which provided country holidays for children from London's East End. In 1947 the Court became a Youth Hostel; when it closed, more than 100,000 visitors had stayed there, benefiting from the wonderful location. Being so close to the Channel, there were many guests from Europe and the rest of the world.
Today, Ellens Court is run by Mortimer Homes Ltd. as a residence for people with learning difficulties.
Some pictures below courtesy of David Twitchett
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