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Scotney Castle

Visited August 2015

Location Nr. Lamberhurst, Kent
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes
Facilities Cafe, Gift Shop, Toilets


The Scotney Estate consists of two houses- the original medieval castle dating from 1378, and Scotney House, a Victorian mansion built to replace the crumbling castle ruin. The old castle then became a feature in the spectacular gardens created in the grounds of the new house.







The medieval Scotney Castle was built by Roger Ashburnham, at a time when the threat of French invasion was very real. The castle was built on an island in the middle of a moat, with four circular towers, each in one corner of the island. This design is similar to that of nearby Bodiam Castle. Only one tower remains today, named the Ashburnham Tower after its first owner.


Later the Darrell family demolished some of the old castle and used the stone to build a larger, more comfortable range on the side of the castle. However the last private owners, the Hussey family, abandoned the old castle completely in 1843 in favour of a new house further up the hill. Scotney Castle was now a romantic ruin in the garden of the new house. 





The Husseys remained at Scotney until 2006, although the old castle and gardens where put in the care of the National Trust in 1970. The new house has since been given over to the Trust and can also be visited, and is furnished in a charming mishmash of different era's, including the kitsch 1980's kitchen with a red & white colour scheme that was all the rage then. The kitchen was updated with money from the fee for the film 'Yanks' which was filmed at Scotney.





The route from the new house down to the castle is through the beautiful gardens, originally laid out by the Hussey family and now maintained by National Trust gardeners. There is much to be seen here, so it is worth taking your time and enjoying a leisurely stroll down the hill. The turret of the castle soon comes into view, and the temptation is to then rush down the hill to get to the ruins as soon as possible, but be sure you don't miss such sights as the Venetian font, the stunning quarry garden and the sweet little thatched ice house on the way. 


The gardens around the castle ruins are also heavily planted and this makes the whole area very photogenic. The castle ruins can be internally viewed, the rooms are mostly empty but they afford good views over the moat and gardens. The head gardener lived in the old castle until 1905, and his kitchen with the copper pots are still in evidence. The range built by the Darrell family has been almost totally demolished, but what little is left has been used as a back drop for the gardens, with climbing honeysuckles and roses covering the walls.


The moat can be walked around and there are various bridges to link the different parts of the islands which have been created in its middle. The walk is mostly wooded, and reasonably quiet as visitors can spread out into the whole estate- we did not get the sense of overcrowding you sometimes feel at popular tourist destinations in August. Look out for the old boat house, and a Henry Moore sculpture, all within the lake side vicinity. 


There are no facilities for children as such, as in no play area, but there is space, plenty of space to run around in the parkland and the woods, and loads of wildlife to spot, from dragonflies to the estate's herd of Sussex cattle. There is certainly enough here to warrant a whole day out, with a very good cafe to provide all your catering needs. 





More info:  National Trust Scotney Castle

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