|Scotney Castle, Kent|
Scotney Castle is a National Trust property about 10 miles south of Tunbridge Wells. Like many National Trust properties, there is a lot to the estate. The original Scotney Castle, pictured above, is a 14th century semi-ruined castle set in beautiful gardens and woodland. There's lots to explore just with that, but you can also tour the newer country house that was built to replace the castle around 1840.
|View from the 'new' house to the old castle|
The estate was owned by the Hussey family from 1778. They built the new country house and the final owners, Christopher and Betty Hussey, lived there until their deaths (Christopher in the 1970s and Betty more recently, in 2006). After Christopher's death, some parts of the house were divided into apartments and one was used as a country retreat by Margaret Thatcher.
Another novel feature of the grounds is an old ice house, which is a listed building on account of the thatched roof. You can peek inside and look down into the huge drop into the depths of the earth. Ice houses were crucial in the days before refrigerators, but I am glad we don't rely on them now.
|Old thatched ice house|
If you are ever in the Kent vicinity, Scotney Castle is well worth a visit. The estate is open year round (other than Christmas Day) but opening hours for the house vary - details are on the National Trust website. If you are National Trust members (which we are, and find very good value) then entry is free, otherwise it costs £13 per adult and £6.50 per child.
We didn't test the tea rooms but they are positioned to give attractive views and there are indoor and outdoor seating options. There are also well-maintained toilets, a small gift shop, and plenty of picnic spots.
Scotney Castle is located at Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN. Full details are at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle/ .
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