Scotney Castle: Our Visit to the National Trust Estate

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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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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.

National Trust Board © French Moments

This board is a great idea: it gives you the names of the flowers in bloom © French Moments

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’.

Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

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”.

Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

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.

The way to the quarry near Scotney House © French Moments

The way to the quarry near Scotney House © French Moments

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.

Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

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.

Scotney House © French Moments

Inside Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

The living area, Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

The library, Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

Flowers, Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

Fancy an ‘apéritif’? © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

The office room, Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

Flower arrangement, Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

The dining room, Scotney House © French Moments

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!).

Scotney House © French Moments

Minou, the Cat, Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

Yes, its name is really ‘Minou’!! © French Moments

Gardeners had not cut the grass for a good reason: there grow beautiful orchids.

The orchids in front of Scotney House © French Moments

The orchids in front of Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

The gardens near Scotney House © French Moments

An old fountain near Scotney House © French Moments

The gardens near Scotney House © French Moments

Walking in the gardens near Scotney House © French Moments

The belfry of Scotney House © French Moments

The belfry of Scotney House © French Moments

The gardens near Scotney House © French Moments

An open door in the gardens of Scotney House © French Moments

The gardens of Scotney House © French Moments

The gardens of Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

Aimée having a rest at Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney House © French Moments

Details of an inscription, Scotney House © French Moments

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.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The view to Scotney Castle from the belvedere at Scotney House © French Moments

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.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

A closer look at the old castle © Frenc hMoments

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.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle in the heart of picturesque gardens © French Moments

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.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

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.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

A view of the old castle and Scotney House at the top of the hill © French Moments

In 1580, the landlord added an Elizabethan-style south wing adjoining the tower.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The old castle and its crenellated tower © French Moments

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.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

Despite its tranquil setting, various spirits still linger about.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The entrance to Scotney Castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The inner courtyard of Scotney Castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The crenellated tower of Scotney Castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The gardens of the old castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The boat house © French Moments

The estate around Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle comprises a large estate (780 acres) around the manor house which consists of a bucolic landscape.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The estate of Scotney Castle © French Moments

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.

Lamberhurst © French Moments

The church of Lamberhurst © French Moments

In the afternoon Aimée and I followed the Parkland Trail which is 2 miles (3.2 km) long.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

Our walk on the Parkland Trail © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The parkland trail around Scotney castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

One of the few footbridges along the Parkland trail © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

Aimée’s having fun in the High Weald countryside! © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

The Kent countryside © French Moments

This trail took us around the estate and offered enchanting views of the old castle and gardens overlooking Scotney House.

Scotney Castle © French Moments

Scotney Castle and Scotney House © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

A fairy-tale come true from our daughter! © French Moments

Scotney Castle © French Moments

A romantic view of the two castles © French Moments

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.

Scotney House © French Moments

The belfry of Scotney House © French Moments

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 vegetable, herbs and fruit (strawberries, raspberries, redcurrant, rhubarb…), as well as flowers for home decoration.

Walled garden of Scotney House © French Moments

Lupins © French Moments

Walled garden of Scotney House © French Moments

Carnations in the walled garden of Scotney House © French Moments

Walled garden of Scotney House © French Moments

Time to rest for a little while at the walled garden! © French Moments

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:



Booking.com


About Scotney Castle and its surroundings

Scotney House © French Moments

An enchanting view of Scotney castle © French Moments

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:


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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