near Kilndown, Kent, England
Scotney Castle is situated south-east of the village of Lamberhurst, 17 miles from Maidstone.
Set in a large estate of wood, parkland and gardens Scotney Castle is not one but two manor houses. The ruins of the medieval castle surrounded by a moat are situated at the bottom of the valley surrounded by beautiful flowering shrubs and trees, forming a picturesque centre to the gardens. The old castle is now merely the remains of a circular tower and the four pillars of the gatehouse entrance.
The ‘new’ Scotney Castle is built on the top of the hill from sandstone in a Tudor revival style popular in the 19th century.
Visitors to the estate not only have the opportunity to visit the castles but also the shop selling ‘Scotney Ale’ and plants for the garden. The castle also has the Coach House Tearoom serving hot and cold food and drink.
An extremely popular part of any visit to Scotney is to see the most ancient parts of the estate, is not the castles or the gardens but the footprint of a dinosaur which was found in the quarry dating back over a million years.
The garden, shop and tearoom are open to the public from March until the middle of December 11am until 5pm Wednesday to Sunday. The castles are open from March until October; visitors are advised to check with the property as the opening times and dates vary at the beginning and end of the season.
The first records of the estate in 1137 gave the owner as Lambert de Scoteni with the ‘old castle’ being built around 1378 by Roger Ashburnham. He built the castle as a rectangular fortified house with towers at the four corners.
The owners of the castle for 350 years were a Catholic family called the Darrell’s. During their long ownership they were responsible for rebuilding some of the castle’s wings in the most popular styles. They also used the castle to hide a priest, Father Richard Blount, for seven years before he jumped into the moat to escape the authorities when Catholicism was illegal.
In 1778 Edward Hussey purchased the property and it was his grandson, also called Edward, who was responsible for building the ‘new’ castle in 1843. The new castle was built on the slopes above the original castle which was then partially dismantled and the remainder left in ruins to become a romantic feature in the garden
On the death of the final member of the Hussey family the estate was left to the National Trust.
Other Castles in the Area
Allington Castle, Kent
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Camber Castle, East Sussex
Hastings Castle, East Sussex
Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex
Hever Castle, Kent
Leeds Castle, Kent