I had discovered a beautiful picture of a moated castle on my walking map in the High Weald. And I had thought that one day I would visit this lovely spot on the border between Kent and East Sussex. And then yesterday Aimée and I finally got the chance to explore it. It is our visit to the Scotney Castle estate that I would like to share with you through our photos!
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- 🚕 Book your private transfer from Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airports to/from your accommodation in London with Get Your Guide
- 🏨 Find the best accommodations in Tunbridge Wells and the High Weald on Booking.com
- 📸 Book your e-tickets to monuments and activities in London
- 🚌 Board a superior coach for a Day Trip of Kent, the garden of England with the visit to Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Dover and historic Greenwich.
- 🌞 Join a Day Trip to the South Downs from Brighton (the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head) on a luxury minibus tour
- 📚 Read the DK Eyewitness England’s South Coast Travel Guide
- 🤩 Get familiar with the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with our latest discoveries
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Our visit to Scotney Castle
We arrived at Scotney Castle as soon as it opened at 10 am. The car park was almost deserted and we had no problem at all finding our way around the domain. Maps of the estate are available to visitors (you can download them here).
Scotney Castle is owned and managed by the National Trust. The Trust was founded in 1895 to conserve and enhance Britain’s monuments and sites.
So there is an entrance fee (in 2021: £10.00 for an adult and £5.00 for a child) but we decided to become a member of the National Trust this year for the first time. After visiting Bateman’s in Burwash, Scotney Castle was the second National Trust site we choose to visit.
The Scotney Castle estate can be divided into three parts:
- the upper part (Scotney House)
- the lower part (old castle and moat)
- the surrounding countryside and woods
The upper part and Scotney House
In the upper part of the estate is the ‘new castle’.
But don’t be fooled by appearances: Scotney House only dates from 1835-1843!
In fact, the owner, Edward Hussey III, hired the architect Anthony Salvin to build a new residence. Scotney House would replace the “old castle”.
For this, they used stone from the ruined castle and especially from the estate, hence the quarry which is today home to a stunning garden of rhododendrons and azaleas.
Scotney House shows an Elizabethan revival style. This style of architecture commonly refers to the first phase of Renaissance architecture in England and is named after Queen Elizabeth I of England (who reigned from 1558 until her death in 1603), following the Tudor style.
When the last resident, Elizabeth Hussey, died in 2006, the house was opened to visitors.
Inside the Scotney House
At the time of our visit (June 2021), only the ground floor was accessible.
In fact, when you enter the house and walk around it, you get the impression that it was still occupied just before as if its occupants had just left.
The garden that borders the house had a few surprises in store for us.
The fountain has a cat in stone… Aimée had a close look and found out on its necklace the cat’s name: Minou (yes, a French cat-name!).
Gardeners had not cut the grass for a good reason: there grow beautiful orchids.
The lower part and the old castle
The lower part can be seen from the lookout near Scotney House. This is certainly the most beautiful part of the estate. The most romantic too.
A path lined with vast flowerbeds and fragrant plants plunges down to the moat that enchantingly surrounds the old castle.
It is this postcard landscape that attracts many visitors.
The place is as romantic as you could wish for and is conducive to daydreaming. When we visited, the weather was sunny and warm. I imagine that the image of this old castle on a foggy day must give one a sense of mystery.
Britain’s leading landscape architects have created an aesthetic at Scotney Castle that combines buildings and gardens with nature. The manor house, outbuildings, river, ponds, paths, woodland, lawns and statues all reflect a search for the ultimate in romance.
The ruin of the old castle
The first mention of the estate dates back to 1137. However, the credit for building the old castle comes from Roger Ashburnham in 1378. It was a fortified house with towers on each side for defensive purposes due to tensions with the French.
In 1580, the landlord added an Elizabethan-style south wing adjoining the tower.
Today, a single circular tower is all that remains of the 14th-century structure, which is surrounded by a moat in the middle of the formal gardens of the estate.
Despite its tranquil setting, various spirits still linger about.
The estate around Scotney Castle
Scotney Castle comprises a large estate (780 acres) around the manor house which consists of a bucolic landscape.
The meadows and woodland are open to walkers who can follow miles of paths linking the villages of Lamberhurst to Kilndown and the Goudhurst area.
In the afternoon Aimée and I followed the Parkland Trail which is 2 miles (3.2 km) long.
This trail took us around the estate and offered enchanting views of the old castle and gardens overlooking Scotney House.
We also learnt that Margaret Thatcher occasionally came and stayed in a cottage for the weekend. It was her way to get away from London when she was Prime minister and enjoy the High Weald countryside.
The walled garden
Next to the car park is the walled garden which should not be missed when visiting Scotney Castle. It dates to circa 1840 and provided the family with fresh produce.
We discovered a wide selection of vegetables, herbs and fruit (strawberries, raspberries, redcurrant, rhubarb…), as well as flowers for home decoration.
It was a very good way to end our visit to Scotney castle. The time was 4.30 pm when we left Scotney Castle and engaged in the A21 road. The journey back home was only 25 min. It’s decided: we’ll be back!
Where to stay in the High Weald?
If you wish to visit Scotney Castle and the High Weald region, it is important to choose the location of your base carefully, so as not to travel unnecessary distances each day. Even though the distance from East Grinstead to Rye is “only” 43 miles (70 km)…
As you can guess, the accommodation possibilities in the High Weald region are very vast.
There is bound to be an accommodation for every desire:
- Are you looking for a manor house with a view of the countryside?
- A charming bed and breakfast in the heart of a hilltop village?
- A comfortable campsite?
- Or one of the most unusual accommodations?
Find your accommodation here or browse the map below:
About Scotney Castle and its surroundings
- Check out the official website of Scotney Castle for more information.
- Download the map of the estate that includes the waymarked paths.
- Discover our beautiful English village of Burwash (12 miles or 20 km from the woods)
- Our popular article: What is England in French: A Little Guide
How to get there?
Scotney Castle is:
- 9 miles from Tunbridge Wells,
- 20 miles from Hastings
- 50 miles from Dover, and
- 52 miles from London.
The main car park is located just before the entrance to Lamberhurst, a few metres past the roundabout on the A21 road from Sevenoaks to Hastings.
How to get there? Here’s the Google Map link or just follow the map below: