As the last trees of soft pink blossom bloom and wedding season gets underway, it feels like romance is truly in air. With three weddings next month I’m embracing the season, so let me take you back in time to an era when the rich built castles with quaint turrets that overlooked the countryside, and a moat surrounded its border. It sounds like something from a fairy tale but you can experience the beauty of a by-gone era just outside London in the countryside that surrounds Tunbridge Wells. Introducing the romantic Scotney Castle.
Scotney Castle is one of the National Trust’s historic gems and I stumbled across it when I spotted this snap on Instagram. I’m ashamed to say that the National Trust has never really been on my radar as way of finding new places to explore, possibly because I associated as something I’d join when I’m older but probably because many of their grand estates are outside London.
Are you a National Trust fan or a recent convert like me? Either way Scotney Castle is a must-see as you’ll find not only one castle but two, both surrounded by beautiful gardens and open to the countryside. You can explore the estate and enjoy a long walk in the great outdoors or, like my sister and I, have a nose around the castles.
You’ll find the entrance to the castles through the National Trust shop where they’ll kindly ask you to part with £15 to get inside.
I was most excited about the old castle it was the feature of the picture that caught my attention. So as the first castle we approached was the ‘new’ Scotney Castle I found myself eager to quickly make my way around the ‘new’ and search out the old. Little did I know that I’d find a mini museum inside.
The new castle dates back to 1778 when Edward Hussey bought the estate. It remained in the family until the death of Christopher Hussey in 1970, when the estate was left to the National Trust. It was only quite recently that the most of the house was opened to the public and the history of the house and its former tenants ready to explore. You can imagine then that I was side-tracked for a good while. I mean, how beautiful is this 1920s dress?
The National Trust have taken great care in maintaining its decor and features.
And you can read a lot about the role Arthur Hussey and Scotney Castle played during the First World War through the current exhibition on display.
But in my opinion, the best views really are outside.
The new castle was built using sandstone from the quarry below and perches carefully above the old castle so that it can be viewed from above. It was said that the old castle was left so that it could be enjoyed as part of the castle’s surrounding gardens. A rather grand water feature you could say!
The view from up above gave me just enough to almost make me want to run down the steps to the bottom. But I made myself enjoy the garden features on the way down.
Our visit was during the end of winter so I was hunting out those classic red berries. I imagine at this time of year I’d be after spring blossoms and in the summer any bright blooming flowers.
The steps down are cleverly shaded by greenery.
So that you don’t get a true view of the castle until you’re right up in front of it.
Doesn’t it look like something out of a fairly tale?!
It is believed that the old castle was built around 1378 and 1380 and I just loved getting up close to all of those medieval features.
Whilst I was a sad to see it look so derelict and I pictured how amazing it would have been to see the house as a whole, there was something about it that made me enjoy it just as it was.
Perhaps because it leaves you to enjoy the castle using your own imagination.
I could totally see myself peering out across the moat on a grey day.
Or happily exploring the garden in the sunshine.
And then sit on this bench with a good book, watching the sunlight drop into twilight hours.
There’s just something lovely and romantic about Scotney Castle that I urge you to go and visit it to see it for yourself. It’s open seven days a week, usually between 10am and 5pm. You’ll find it here. There’s more information about what’s on at Scotney Castle on the National Trust website.
Unfortunately, I can’t see a way you can get to it easily by any other transport than a car. But there’s always the option to rent a car and I’ll be sharing some tips from my experience soon!
Have you discovered any lovely National Trust places I should visit?