History buffs will really enjoy a visit to Lullinstone Roman Villa. By car it is less than 20 miles away. If you are taking public transport you can be there in about an hour from Safestay Hostel. The quickest route is to head to Elephant and Castle Stop ID: EPH and take the train towards Sevenoaks. There will be 14 stops and this will take about 44 minutes. You will disembark at Eynsford Stop ID: EYN and from there you are less than a mile from Lullingstone Roman Villa.
An adult admission price is 6.20 British pounds. There are reduced rates for children, students, seniors and of course there is a family rate as well. During the winter season the site is only open on weekends. That would be November 04 – March 31. Hours of operation are from 10:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. (16:00). It is closed for Christmas and New Years.
Lullingstone Roman Villa was constructed in the late 1st century. In the subsequent years it would be expanded and remained occupied until it was destroyed by fire in the 5th century.
The residents were Romans and later probably native Britons who had adopted the culture of their former conquerors. It has been suggested that the villa may have been used as a country retreat by Roman governors of the province of Britain. This would be around 150 C.E. This supposition is supported by the finding of 2 marble busts in the cellar of the structure.
During the Saxon period the ruins of the Roman temple-mausoleum located as part of the original complex were incorporated into a Christian chapel. It would become known as the Lullingstone Chapel. It was still in use by the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 C.E.
In modern times the first discovery would be made in 1750 by accident (the fencing in of a deer park) but no real excavations were done until the 20th century. A blown down tree in 1939 revealed scattered fragments of Roman mosaics. The main work in discovery was done during the years of 1949 – 1961. It was at this time that English Heritage took the site over and opened it to the public.
Today one can view 2 large floor mosaics in the former dining room of the villa, One depicts the abduction of Europa by Jupiter the other the slaying of the Chimaera by Bellerophon. In another room of the building one can see the Chi-Rho fresco which contains the only known Christian paintings from the Roman era in Britain. One can also see a heated bath suite.
A specially commissioned light show brings the villa to life and there are a nice collection of Roman artifacts on display found during the previous excavations which include 2 human skeletons. Kids are permitted to dress up in traditional Roman costumes and there are a number of special events including workshops that are held throughout the year. For example, there is a workshop on Wednesday March 19, 2014 that will allow participants to learn how to create Roman mosaics.
There is a self service tea bar that serves light refreshments and snacks. Ice cream is only sold during the summer months. There is a picnic area for those who would like to bring their own food. This will afford you a lovely view of the Darent Valley and River. There is also a gift shop on site for those who are interested as well.