I wouldn’t say that I’m your traditional twenty-something student, I’ve never found night clubs entertaining, can think of nothing worse than drinking myself paralytic on a weekly basis and just don’t seem to fit the party animal stereotype that so often describes my generation. Instead, of an evening, you’ll find me baking with a glass of red in hand or enjoying an early night snuggled in a bed full of pillows. For days out I’m bowled over by beautiful gardens, tearooms and architecture, a sucker for a piece of history it probably comes as no surprise that I often find myself drawn to the beautiful properties now owned by the National Trust or English Heritage, spending hours wrapped up in their romantic embrace.
One of my most frequented National Trust sites is that of Scotney Castle, just a short drive up the A21 from my childhood home. The beautiful ‘old’ Scotney castle lies in semi-ruin amongst the well-established gardens of the grand ‘New’ Scotney House.
On entering you first find yourself in the shadow of the 19th Century country house, built in the Tudor Revival Style and designed by the architect Anthony Salvin. The house, until recently, was still lived in by Elizabeth Hussey who upon her death in 2006 left the property to the National Trust. The house was first opened to the public in 2007 with the trust keeping many of the more modern features exactly as Elizabeth Hussey had left them. A lover of cats, the house still has a few feline visitors and a cat bed can still be seen, forever preserved, in the Hussey Kitchen. Amongst the more modern items in the house are many generations worth of possessions and the self-guided tour takes you on a walk back and forwards in time from room to room.
Stepping back out into the sunlight, we next headed for one of my favourite parts of the grounds, the Quarry Garden. The garden takes its name from the fact that it is, in fact, the quarry from which the sandstone used to build the house was appropriated. The steeply sided basin was then landscaped and filled with a most magical selection of trees and shrubs, which whether in bloom or not, offer a spectacular array of colours and textures. With a backlash setting in and a move away from the grassy vistas of Capability Brown the gardens at Scotney feel a lot more haphazard, naturally rendered and follow elegant free flowing lines. The flowers come alive in the breeze as bumble bees feverishly collect their nectar, in turn covering themselves in their dusty pollen.
As you exit the Quarry Garden a short walk downhill leads you to Scotney Castle itself, lying elegantly in the centre of a gently flowing moat. Shockingly this 14th-century castle was deliberately ruined to create a romantic folly for the gardens of the house and although originally it is believed to have had four turrets, today only one remains. It’s scarred remains currently lie under a tapestry of scaffolding, with essential maintenance necessary to preserve the last pieces of its history.
There really is something for everyone here at Scotney. The grass banks surrounding the moat provide a perfect place to stop for a picnic, look for fish, feed the friendly ducks and geese or take in the spectacular views of the castle. There are acres of space for children to run and play and a specific play area named after the beloved dogs of Arthur Hussey, Badger and Pepper. For the keen walker, explorer and our four-legged friends, there are 780 acres of parkland to roam, still grazed and maintained by Sussex cattle and sheep as it has been for centuries. Even having been several times there is always something new left to see, a secret part of the garden to explore or a different tree to have a picnic beneath.
Have you ever been to Scotney Castle?
Love, Sophia x