We’re lucky where we live in Kent because there are so many National Trust properties within easy reach. My nearest is Knole, which I visit in all weathers to walk the dog, however, with the poor weather we’ve been having recently, we haven’t been much further.
Thank goodness that summer finally seems to have arrived (for this week anyway) and what better excuse than that to get out and about and visit some of our local National Trust treasures.
Scotney Castle is located just the other side of Tunbridge Wells and literally just off the A21. You get two for the price of one at Scotney, with a Victorian manor house and a medieval castle to explore. Built by Edward Hussey III, when he inherited the estate, Scotney is an imposing building set high on the estate and overlooking spectacular views.
We explored the house in all it’s glory, imagining the lives of those who lived there over the generations, before taking a pit-stop break at the cafe. No visit to a National Trust property would be complete without trying out the culinary delights and who could ignore the rhubarb and ginger scone of the month?
Well, you just have to, don’t you?
I’m so thrilled at how well National Trust cater for food allergies and intolerances. When we’ve visited properties, we’ve been able to get soya milk, gluten free bread and imagine my son’s eyes lighting up when he saw this gluten and dairy free chocolate courgette cake:
Sufficiently rested and restored, we ventured down to the ruins of the beautiful, moted, medieval castle:
You can explore part of this castle, the only remaining standing area, as well as the grounds. There is an interesting story about a priest who hid in the priest hole there, protected by the family until someone gave him away. When they occupants were jailed for a short time, the priest escaped with his servant by jumping in to the moat.
What I found difficult to understand, was that Edward Hussey III, upon building his dream home, decided to purposely ruin this old castle in order to create a romantic folly. I mean, what’s romantic about that? Those Victorians had some crazy ideas and what a shame. I actually found this medieval ruin more interesting than the main house.
There are acres of grounds to explore at Scotney, but it was a little too hot for us on the day we visited. Instead, we went in search of shade and the hidden away children’s adventure playground:
I love the way National Trust are able to blend these play areas in with the surroundings. This one, you couldn’t even see when walking down the main paths of the estate grounds. Can you see those pipes, fixed to wooden posts? Those were cut open pipes and you could roll a tennis ball down them so it landed in a bucket at the bottom. Simple idea, very cool.
On our walk back up towards the exit, we came across the Discovery room, whereby the children were able to do a spot of bird watching and make some leaf and insect brass rubbings. There were animal firs and skeletons and all sorts of things to identify in here.
Having brought some pocket money, the children found some interesting little knick knacks to spend it on. Squidgy slugs and bouncing putty balls aren’t my thing, but they seemed to go down a treat!
Scotney Castle has something to please both young and old and is well worth a visit. I know we will be going back to explore more of those amazing grounds, perhaps when it’s not so hot, not that I’m wishing this lovely weather away…