Since signing up for a National Trust membership, we’ve been visiting many great places for days out and one of the most memorable experiences was a day trip to Scotney Castle in Kent. Scotney Castle is about a 2 hour drive from west London, quite some distance away for a walk in the countryside, but it was a place that I had wanted to visit for some time after seeing photos of the picturesque, ivy-covered medieval castle folly.
2021 update: The garden, estate, shop and tea-room (takeaway only) are open. On weekdays you don’t need to pre-book your visit. At busier times, like weekends and school holidays, booking is recommended to guarantee entry.
We visited Scotney Castle for a day trip from London in October, and it was beautiful seeing the estate with vibrant autumn colours across the grounds.
What you’ll find at the Scotney Castle estate is a country house (shown above, built in the 1800s), 780 acres of parkland and woodland, and stunning formal gardens with the 14th century, moated Scotney Old Castle that was deliberately ruined to create a romantic feature for the gardens when the new house was built.
Due to social distancing, the house will operate a queuing system on arrival and booking a ticket does not guarantee entry to the house.
An interesting fact about the house: it was built using sandstone quarried from the slope below. The hollow created was made into a Quarry Garden that contains a 100-million-year-old impression of a dinosaur’s footprint.
After a quick look at the house, we set out to explore the gardens and the old castle. The estate grounds were bursting with gorgeous autumn colours throughout, truly stunning to see.
The Old Castle was built around 1378 and over the next 450 years was lived in by three different families. In 1830, when Edward Hussey III commissioned architect Anthony Salvin to build a new house on the estate, he decided to ruin the Old Castle to create a romantic element to the garden.
The Old Castle looks straight out of a fairytale! There’s a small closet where a Catholic priest was hidden from 1591 to 1598 when Catholicism was illegal in England. There was a second raid by authorities and the priest ended up jumping into the moat and fleeing.
Due to Covid-19, the Castle interior has been temporarily closed for viewing.
We spent a few hours exploring Scotney Castle and roaming around the gardens before making our way back to the exit for a snack at the café. Here are a few more shots from our day…
If you’re looking for ideas for a day trip in the countryside, I can highly recommend a day trip to Scotney Castle. It is truly a picturesque place to visit and we enjoyed exploring the grounds in autumn when the colours make for some gorgeous views around the estate.
Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN
Opening Hours: 1000 to 1700. Closes dusk if earlier. House opens at 11am. Closed 24 and 25 December.
Tickets: £10.00 for adults, £5 for children aged 5 and up for National Trust non-members. Entry is free for National Trust members and under 5’s. Booking is advised for all visitors, including members, especially for weekends and bank holidays. Bookings can be made at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle/
Parking: Free parking on site.
Good to Know:
If you’re using SatNav / Google Maps, use the postcode TN3 8JN and once you’re on the A21, follow signs for Scotney Castle. (Following the Google Maps directions will send you down a narrow dirt road past farms that ends up at the back of the estate’s parking lot – a scenic route, but preferable to use the correct entrance)
There’s a café, souvenir store and restrooms around the entrance.
Activities for families at the estate include natural play trails, dens and a Discovery Room, where you can find out what a mole tunnel looks like or what it feels like to stroke a wild animal.
2021 update: The Castle and play areas are currently closed until further notice due to Covid-19.
This post was updated on 17 May 2021 with current information to plan a visit.
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