Kent Gardens and Castles
Kent : Most beautiful gardens and castles
The medieval kingdom of Kent in the South East corner of Britain is often referred to as the “garden of England”. It is, in fact, jammed packed with enchanting gardens as well as mysterious castles, impressive stately houses and quaint villages tucked away in the depths of the countryside.
There really is something for everyone in Kent, so take advantage of the easy access by train, bus and road from London and the south of England and explore the delights this lush county has to offer.
Kent’s Sensational Award-winning Gardens
There is a beguiling choice of gardens open to the public in Kent. From the beautiful Victorian walled garden at Quex to the peaceful and romantic Goodnestone Park gardens considered one of the loveliest gardens in Kent. Bedgebury Pinetum has a stunning collection of conifers while Riverhill Himalayan Gardens are the place for a fabulous display of bluebells in the spring and rhododendrons and azaleas in the summer.
The magnificent gardens at Hever Castle are one of the most beautiful and inspiring to visit. Set in 125 acres of stunning grounds with the backdrop of the splendid 13th Century Castle, which was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Marvel at the quintessential English Rose Garden that contains over 4000 roses and inhale the gorgeous fragrance. Admire the classical statues in the Italian Garden, Pompeian wall and giant topiary chess set.
There is plenty to amuse the children too with an adventure playground, challenging Water Maze on Sixteen Acre island, plus a Yew Maze, miniature model houses and a boating Lake. Restaurants and shops can be found in the castle and garden grounds.
The majestic Penshurst Place Gardens surrounding the historic family home that was once the property of Henry VIII are high up on the list of top rated gardens to visit in Kent. With over 1 mile of yew hedging dividing the Elizabethan walled gardens into a series of separate ‘rooms’, each with its own unique colour and season.
Wander around the paths in the impressive Arboretum, or walk round the Trout Lakes, Lancup Well and Lake Park. There are about 50 acres of well kept grounds that make up one of the UK’s most alluring spectacles all year round.
Families and children are well catered for as there is a large wooden Adventure Playground, fascinating Toy Museum, and exciting Woodland Trail. Lunches and afternoon teas can be found in the Garden Restaurant and the Porcupine Pantry cafe. The fortified manor house is one of the grandest and well preserved properties in England, see marvellous 15th – 17th Century paintings, tapestries and furniture and the unique medieval Baron’s Hall.
Resplendent Majestic Castles Galore
The county of Kent has the highest number of castles and stately homes in England. There are thousands of years of heritage to discover and a diverse array to visit from Henry VIII’s Deal Castle on the coast to the medieval royal palace that is part of Dover Castle.
Leeds Castle is one not to be missed as it is one of the most beautiful venues in Kent. It stands proud above the still waters of its moat and is surrounded by five hundred acres of gardens and lovely parkland.
Every year the Castle has a full programme of events and activities including car shows, Grand Medieval Jousting and the very popular annual Classical Concert. Learn about the Castle’s 1000 years of history, home to medieval queens such as Catherine of Aragon and its last resident Lady Baillie who transformed it into a lavish palace.
Chiddingstone Castle makes an enjoyable day out with its 35 acres of informal gardens, large lawns for family picnics, fishing lake, Ancient Egyptian garden and pretty woodland. There are breathtaking views of the North Downs from the castle that dates back to Tudor times and was subsequently remodelled in the 19th Century to a more medieval-style castle exterior.
Inside the castle is a wonderful mix of collections that includes Ancient Egyptian treasures, Japanese lacquer, Buddhist artefacts, Samurai armour and Jacobite manuscripts. A visit to the Castle’s cosy Tea Room and sheltered Grade II listed courtyard is a must, light lunches are served or treat yourself to a sumptuous cream tea presented on beautiful vintage china. Their freshly baked scones are legendary and the clotted cream is delivered directly from Cornwall.
For special occasions full afternoon teas are available with sandwiches, scones and a selection of cakes all beautifully presented.
The National Trust are custodians of some incredible historical properties in the Kent area, all are beautifully presented and preserved to the highest standard. Ightham Mote is one such example, it is a picture perfect timber famed 14th Century manor house which has been home to medieval knights, royal courtiers and Victorian aristocracy.
Scotney Castle is set amongst magical landscaped gardens and wooded grounds that extend over 780 acres, it combines a 14th Century moated castle and a fine country house. Children will love the natural play areas where they can build dens in the wilderness camp and follow the buggy-friendly wooded trails.
The house is crammed with paintings, books, furniture and textiles. One of the advantages of visiting National Trust properties is you can be rest assured that you’ll be able to indulge in a scrumptious cream tea in one of their charming tea rooms.
Their cafes and restaurants offer a mouth watering choice of seasonal and local produce which can also be purchased in their gift shops, such as the NT range of delicious jams and preserves. Who can resist their Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam or their Passionfruit Curd!
Walmer Castle and Gardens is a fascinating English Heritage visitor attraction. Constructed in the time of King Henry VIII it was part of the artillery defences along the Kent coast and established as the official residence for the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
Holders of the distinguished post have included William Pitt the Younger, Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington and the Queen Mother. There is plenty to do and see here from the Wellington Room to the enchanting Boardwalk Garden, and who could resist the succulent home baked cakes on offer in the Lord Warden’s Tea Room.