Scotney Castle is an English country house with formal gardens south-east of Lamberhurst in the valley of the River Bewl in Kent, England. It belongs to the National Trust. The gardens, which are a celebrated example of the Picturesque style, are open to the public. The central feature is the ruins of a medieval, moated manor house, Scotney Old Castle, which is on an island on a small lake. The lake is surrounded by sloping, wooded gardens with fine collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and kalmia for spring colour, summer wisteria and roses, and spectacular autumn colour. At the top of the garden stands a house which was built to replace the Old Castle between 1835 and 1843. This is known as Scotney New Castle, or simply Scotney Castle, and was designed by Anthony Salvin. It is an early, and unusually restrained, example of Tudor Revival architectural style in 19th century Britain.
The earliest record from 1137 gives the owner of the estate as Lambert de Scoteni. Roger Ashburnham is credited with building the castle c.1378–80. Construction of the castle began as a roughly rectangular fortified house with towers in each corner. The original plan may never have been finished, and by 1558 it is likely only the southern tower remained. In 1580 the south wing was rebuilt in Elizabethan architecture style, and around 1630 the eastern range was rebuilt in three-story Inigo Jones style. The Elizabethan wing remained a bailiff's residence until 1905, but the eastern range was partly dismantled on the completion of the new house in 1843, leaving the ruin as a garden feature. Catholic Recusant owner Thomas Darrell hid Jesuit Father Richard Blount, S.J. in the castle while he ministered to Roman Catholics from 1591 to 1598. Catholicism was then illegal in England, and during the second raid by authorities to arrest the Father he fled over a wall into the moat and escaped.
The Darrell family owned the estate for some 350 years. In 1778 Edward Hussey bought the estate and his grandson, also Edward, built the 'new' Castle to the designs of Anthony Salvin, from sandstone quarried from the slope below. The hollow created was developed into a Quarry Garden and contains a 100-million-year-old impression of a dinosaur's footprint. On Christopher Hussey's death in 1970 the estate was left to the National Trust. Several apartments in the castle and on the estate were let out by the Trust, with tenants including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who rented the Belfry flat for a time during the 1970s and 1980s, when it served as a weekend escape for her from Westminster life. The castle grounds have played host to Shakespeare productions, notably A Midsummer Night's Dream, with the actors appearing from behind the bushes on cue. Old Scotney Castle was used as the location for the video to the Squeeze song Some Fantastic Place.
In a black metal trunk, hidden away in the attic a team of volunteers have discovered a treasure trove from the personal collection of a commanding officer from the First World War. From 1914-19, Brigadier-General Arthur Hussey was the Commander, Royal Artillery, of the Fifth Division. From 9 October 2014, they will be displaying items from his collection including his war diaries in theirr exhibition, Arthur's War. The Hussey family had a tradition of keeping scrap books. They have provided us with a really good insight into how they lived. Here is an example of one of them for you to have a flick through. Edward Hussey III spent many happy years here with his wife and children, but only two more generations of the family have lived here since then. It is maybe for that reason that the new house has been little altered. It has always been a welcoming and sociable place, filled with books and paintings, many of which were created by the Husseys. The attitude which Edward had about his possessions is highlighted in his family motto 'Vix ea nostra voco' which means 'I scarcely call these things our own'.
There is mobility parking in the main car park. Please note: parking is limited, particularly at weekends and during holiday periods. The grounds are partly accessible and there are some steep slopes. There is a map of the accessible route. Some visitors may require assistance. There is also a virtual tour available. Adapted toilets are outside in the garden. There are steps to the entrance of the building and terraces, ramp for access to ground floor, gravel approach. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN
Transport : Wadhurst (National Rail) then bus (256). Bus Routes : 256 (Monday to Friday) stops near by
Opening Times : Old Castle & Gardens Daily 10:00 to 16:00; House open daily 11:00 to 15:00
Tickets : Adults £13.00; Children £6.50
Tel. : 01892 893820