Among the most outstanding Roman villa survivals in Britain, Lullingstone has been vividly re-displayed, providing a unique – and all-weather – opportunity to trace Roman domestic life over three centuries.
Set in the attractive surroundings of the Darent Valley, the villa was begun in about AD 100, and developed to suit the tastes and beliefs of successive wealthy owners. These may have included the family of Pertinax, Governor of Britain and later Roman Emperor for just 87 days in AD 193. Additions included a heated bath-suite and a remarkable underground pagan ‘cult-room’, including a rare painting of three water-nymphs, by far the oldest wall-painting in English Heritage care.
The villa reached its peak of luxury in the mid-4th century, when a big new dining room was added. This still displays spectacular mosaics, including Europa and the Bull and Bellerophon killing the Chimera. By now Christians, the owners also created a ‘house-church’ above the pagan cult-room: the wall-paintings discovered here are among the earliest surviving evidence for Christianity in Britain.
Winner of Sandford Award 2009