I have lived in Kent for almost all my life but there are so many historic sites and tourist attractions that I am yet to see and visit here. Scotney Castle in Tunbridge Wells had been on my list for a couple of years and I am so glad that I finally got round to visiting it.
As with a lot of castles, the grounds are often my favourite part and so I would recommend checking the weather forecast before you go and time your visit (if possible) to a day with no rain so that you can really make the most of the outside area. We were very fortunate with the weather and we even had bright blue skies for a lot of the day which made the scenery that bit more beautiful.
The earliest record of people living in Scotney Castle is 1137 but the Hussey family lived there from 1778 until 2006 when the last descendent, Betty Hussey, died at the age of 99. Christopher Hussey (Betty’s husband) left the estate to the National Trust in 1970 as they had no children to pass it on to, on the condition that Betty could continue to live there until she passed away. The family’s kind donation to the Trust is not surprising given their familly moto of ‘Vix ea nostra voco’ – ‘I scarcely call these things our own’, which you can just make out above the doorway in the picture below.
The National Trust volunteers at Scotney Castle were extremely helpful and informative. There was a cheery face in every room eager to teach you something new and this made the whole experience that bit better.
I had never heard of the Hussey family before visiting but by the end of my visit, I felt like I knew them and would happily have sat with Betty for a cup of tea and a natter about her cats (she loved cats – something which is quite obvious when walking around the house).
The house has been left as it was when Betty lived there so you really feel like you know and understand Betty by the end of your visit.
Her coats and wellies were left as they were…
…her feminine and elegant bedroom was as it was, with her housecoat displayed on the bed…
…and her dressing table was set out with the photos of her late husband still on display and all of her brushes were laid out. Although I think I would have been too distracted by the view to do a good job of my make up if I was sitting there.
Although I doubt that Betty wore this 1920s detailed flapper dress at the age of 99, it was great to see the kind of clothes she would have worn when she was younger and to imagine the kind of parties they must have hosted at the house.
I was desperate to walk around the gardens after seeing enticing previews from many of the windows.
After looking around the house, we stopped at the tea rooms for some lunch followed by my favourite treat – cream tea.
It was then time to explore the outside area. We walked through the stone archway and into a fantasy world made up of the brightest greens and pinks and thankfully for us, blues.
… Click on my next blog post to see our adventures exploring the grounds.