The focus of Belmont is the elegant 18th century house (designed by Samuel Wyatt) commanding stunning views over the surrounding Estate and the rolling Kentish North Downs.
The house was built in 1769 by Edward Wilks, store-keeper at the nearby Faversham Powder Mill. Extensive views and its elevated position gave Belmont its name.
In 1780 Wilks sold the house to Colonel John Montresor, who was largely responsible for Belmont as it exists today. He enlarged the park to the North and West and bought several adjoining properties. From 1789 to 1793 he also built the main block of the present house to a design by Samuel Wyatt. Wyatt used the newly fashionable idea of an Orangery to connect the old with the new. Montresor didn't enjoy the house for long. Mistakenly accused of embezzling Army funds in 1799 he died before his innocence could be proved.
In 1801 the house was bought at public auction by General George Harris (later Lord Harris) who had defeated the Sultan of Mysore in 1799 at the battle of Seringapatam. The acquisition was made with prize money from his successful military career.
Belmont is of interest for three main reasons. Architecturally, it is an unspoilt example of Samuel Wyatt's work. One of the most progressive architects of the late 18th Century, the house is a fine testimony to his understated neo-classical style. Historically, the house is important for its well-preserved records of a family who played a leading role in the development of the British Empire in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Successive Lords Harris served as soldiers and colonial governors. The house still contains many mementos of their careers. Lastly, Belmont is distinguished for the collection of clocks created by the 5th Lord Harris. It is reputedly the finest collection in England.