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Kent and Sussex Castles & Stately Homes

Hever Castle
4 miles away. TN8 7NG
01732 865224

Hever is a must see for any visitor to Kent Border cottages . Less than three miles from us, Hever is steeped in royalty, tragedy and pageantry.

The Castle can be traced back as early as 1270AD, but is best known as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, who was to become the Queen of England. Her marriage to Henry VIII in 1533 only actually lasted three years, but such was her allure, that Henry controversially divorced Catherine of Aragon for her and in so doing seriously pissed off the Pope of the time and had England excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

Hever was then later to become home to another of King Henry’s wives, Anne of Cleves.

Failing to produce him a son after the birth of their daughter Elizabeth (Who was to become Queen Elizabeth I) Henry had Anne sent to the Tower, tried for treason and beheaded in 1536, whilst he courted Jane Seymour. One way to save the lawyer’s fees I suppose!
Jane then died during Childbirth, fortunately, for Henry, after producing him the much needed son an heir who was to become Edward VI.  He then remarried German-born, Anne of Cleves who, even after the annulment of her marriage to him, remained close to the King and lived both at Penshurst Place and Hever until 1557.

To visit the Castle today is to step back into history and truly see how the English nobility lived in the 16th Century. The house is packed with Tudor portraits, furniture, books and tapestries including two prayer books inscribed and signed by Anne Boleyn herself. There is also a fine collection of historic swords, armour and other gruesome instruments of the time as well as costumed figures of Henry VIII and his six wives.

Outside this quintessentially English, moated, country house , set in beautiful Kent Countryside are   spectacular gardens and grounds, recently voted by Gardeners World Magazine as the most romantic garden in the South East. Other things to do include getting lost in a Maze! There are two at Hever: the Yew Maze and a water Maze. You can also try your hand at Archery, take a boat out on the lake and even re-live the excitement of a medieval jousting tournament. For Arts and Music lovers check out the program at the Hever Theatre and look out for the summer festival, and for golfers, Hever has a pay and play championship 18 hole golf course.


Penshurst Place and Gardens
6 miles away. TN11 8DG
01892 870866

“The Grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all of England” That is how Penshurst has been described and it just about sais it all.

Penshurst Place is just three miles from us at Kent Border Cottages. A spectacular 2,500 acre estate and a perfect parkland setting frame this lovely family home built in 1341 by Sir John de Pulteney.

During Tudor times Penshurst was owned by King Henry VIII and for a time (she also lived at Hever) was home to his fourth wife Anne of Cleves, it was purchased by the Sydney family in 1552 and has been in their ownership ever since. The current owner, Philip Sydney, 2nd Viscount De L’Isle is also Her Majesty the Queen’s Lord-Leutenant of Kent.

For the visitor, Penshurst combines the splendour of magnificent state rooms filled with paintings tapestries and the finest antiques collected over centuries by the Sydney family, with spectacular architecture such as the Baron’s Great Hall, its vaulted ceiling and crypt below. There is even a toy museum.
Outside you can marvel at the beautiful 48 acres of English gardens including the splendid 11 acres of formal walled garden, then walk or cycle through ancient parkland or just stop, sit and wonder at it all.


Groombridge Place Gardens & Enchanted Forest
6.5 miles away. TN3 9QG
01892 861444

With origins dating as far back as Saxon times (1100AD) Groombridge place Gardens is just over three miles from us.

This really is a garden enthusiast’s dream day out. Laid out in the 17th century as private formal gardens designed as extra rooms for the house, the gardens give a fascinating insight into the landscaping of that era.  There is the Knot Garden, The White Rose Garden, The Herbaceous Garden, The oriental garden, A Drunken Garden (!) and The Draughtsman’s lawn and that’s all before you have visited the enchanted forest.

I can particularly recommend a visit to see the Spring Daffodil display at Groombridge Place as well as the early summer when the gardens bloom fully, but for more information of opening times and special events go to their website.

Groombridge Place Gardens & Enchanted Forest

Chiddingstone Castle
5 miles away. TN8 7AD
01892 870347

A 16th Century Tudor house with later additions and alterations throughout its long history Chiddingstone was the home of the Streatfeild family for over 400 years before it was purchased by Lord Astor in 1938. Then during the war it became a military base and after that a school.

Today the house is the home of the Denys Eyre Bower collection of Buddist, Egyptian and Japanese Art and Artefacts including armour, swords and laquer.

For lovers of the Victorian Kitchen Garden (like me!) Chiddingston also has a fully restored Victorian Kitchen together with a working range, cooking ware of the time , pantry and servants hall. Take afternoon Tea in the Victorian Tea room from fine bone china and soak up the elegance of the period.

For opening times – Chiddingstone is not open every day so for times and events check their website.


Chiddingstone Castle

9 miles away. TN16 1PS
OS Grid Ref: 188:TQ455515
01732 868381

There can be no more famous politician in the history of these British Isles than Winston Churchill.

Chartwell, near Westerham in Kent and just a few miles from us at Kent Border Cottages, was home to Winston Churchill and his family for over 40 years and the house has been preserved in his memory.

I have a particular connection with Chartwell and its more recent history, as I was bought up in Westerham and my father not only met Winston during his long army career but also organised the fund raising and commissioning of the Churchill Statue standing on Westerham Green.

For the visitor, Chartwell is a chance to look back at the life of this remarkable man and his influence on our recent history, not forgetting that he was not just a great statesman he was also a prolific writer, a painter, a bricklayer, a keen gardener and a family man.

A visit is to see the house much as it was when Winston lived there, visit the lakes and gardens where he must have contemplated so many dreadful events and agonised over decisions that would eventually change the course of history.




Quebec House
Childhood home of General  James Wolfe
10 miles from us.
Grid Ref: 187:TQ449541

Quebec House

Knole Park
Sevenoaks:  11 miles from us. TN15 0RP
OS Grid Ref: 188:TQ532543
01732 462100

Imagine owning a house with 365 rooms, 52 staircases and a 1,000 acre deer park as a garden. This 17th Century classic British stately is the home of Lord Sackville and former home of Vita Sackville-West, inspiration for Virginia Wolfe’s Orlando. And it is open to the public throughout the summer months.

Knole Park

Ightham Mote
17 miles from us. TN15 0NT
OS Grid Ref: 188:TQ584535
01732 810378

Ightham Mote is a beautiful 14th Century Moted Manor House lovingly restored and preserved and now run by the National Trust.

I know the house well and with its lovely oak framed stone exterior, moat surrounding it, a central courtyard, formal gardens, the great hall and even a grade 1 listed dog kennels,  the house is a lovely example of its period and in my view one of the prettiest in the South of England.

Certainly well worth a visit and especially in the summer for the gardens and at Christmas time when the house is beautifully decorated for the festive season.

Ightham Mote

Scotney Castle
19 miles from us. TN3 8JN
OS Grid Ref: 188:TQ688353
01892 893820

It is believed that Scotney Castle gets its name from a French Knight who owned the Estate in 1137 called Lambert de Scoteni, but the house today is of a more recent design dating back to only 1378 and attributed to Roger Ashburnham.

But it is for the gardens I would recommend a visit. Where else could you see a magnificent moated country house ruined, on purpose, just to make a dramatic backdrop for a garden? And the result is spectacular.

Visit in May and June to see the Rhododendrons and azaleas , they are quite beyond compare.

Scotney Castle

Leeds Castle
Maidstone  35 miles from us. ME17 1PL
01622 765400

Described as “The loveliest castle in the world” and certainly is to me. In fact I have stayed there many times and have a family connection to it through a previous owner, the Hon Olive Lady Baillie.

Mentioned in the Doomsday book as then a Saxon home, Leeds became better known as a Royal Residence throughout the middle ages. And yes Henry VIII features strongly again, housing his first wife  Catherine of Aragon there before divorcing her for Anne Boleyn.

Today Leeds is a must see for any visitor to the UK or lover of stunning architecture and beautiful English country houses. The Castle rises serenely from the breath-taking moat – actually the River Len, dammed and sluiced just by the stone gate house - and the whole sits majestically in glorious parkland.

Whilst you are there, take a look around the aviary, stroll through the wood garden and follow the river Len down to the lower lakes. Leeds has what is probably the best wildfowl collection in the area, including the majestic black Swans.

Leeds Castle
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