• LOCATION 3 | The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods

    Gatehouse and driveway

    Gatehouse and driveway on London audio tour The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods

    You'll come to our next stop a few steps ahead of you

    Along the way, you might have noticed a rectangular brick sewage access point and pieces of ceramic drainage pipes, the first evidence of the house that once stood here. You are now standing next to what used to be the gatehouse and main driveway of the mansion.

    With the gatehouse behind you, slowly follow the driveway deeper into the woods. There's a fork marked in our route coming up ahead of you. Remember to follow the route left, going clockwise.

    Meyer Franklin Kline acquires the lease to the Horsens house in the 1920s. Kline is a well-travelled socialite from Tennessee, a refined and cosmopolitan man whose sole purpose in life was to see as much of the world as possible. He made his fortune compiling a guide on behalf of a Japanese shipping company based in Osaka.

    Please slow down in this section while I tell you more.

    By 1935, Kline boasted he had travelled around the world 22 times, and therefore was 22 days younger than everyone else on earth, since he crossed the International Date Line always in an easterly direction. His deep knowledge of global ports of call was consigned to the Official Shippers Guide: an annual leather-bound volume containing every bit of information imaginable on all major ports of the world. Containing tips about the best hotels and restaurants, local customs, import and export data, even local weather conditions, the Official Shippers Guide was a world-class travel companion that could be found in every cabin of every ship of Osaka Shosen Kaisha, the Japanese Shipping company Kline worked for.

    Left and right of the driveway, you may notice further evidence of the mansion, such as more sewage access points, an old sign, fallen electricity poles, and the brick housing of old electricity mains.

    Please continue to make your way up the driveway, remembering that our route is looping in a clockwise direction. At the end of the driveway, you will notice the path trailing off to the right. Follow it to reach the remains of the car park, which are well hidden in the foliage, and pause there.

    Kline made a fortune as a travel writer, from book sales and also from advertising space in his popular guide. He invested a lot of his wealth in turning Horsens into a veritable mansion, renaming it Kokyo, after the Japanese Imperial Palace. He'd bring artefacts back from his travels, such as the pair of bronze Chinese lions that once adorned the steps, and other oriental garden ornaments. He also installed the expensive wood panelling and furnishings of a state cabin from one of the Japanese passenger ships in the dining room.

    You should be approaching the old car park now. Not much of it is visible today under the thick foliage, but you might recognize it from its concrete and steel pipe fencing.

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The Battle of Britain House: A Walk Through Ruislip Woods