The name "mote" derives from "moot", "meeting [place]", rather than referring to the body of water. Ightham Mote and its gardens are open to the public.
Originally dating to around 1320, the building's importance lies in the fact that after the completion of the quadrangle with a new chapel in the sixteenth century, its successive owners effected relatively few changes to the main structure. It remains like a snapshot of how such houses would have looked in the Middle Ages. Nikolaus Pevsner called it "the most complete small medieval manor house in the country". It was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1985 by an American businessman, Charles Henry Robinson, who had bought it in 1953. The house is now a Grade I listed building, and parts of it are a Scheduled Ancient Monument.