A couple of weeks ago we had my parents and aunt to stay and very conveniently school had an inset day (don’t you just love it when things work out), so whilst all the other parents were musing the inconvenience of an inset day just a week after they returned to school I was thankful for the time off. It meant we could all visit a National Trust site together without the normal weekend or holiday crowds.
We choose Scotney Castle for our visit as it was fairly local but not somewhere we had been yet. Living in 1066 country has its benefits as it means we have an abundance of local castles that we can visit and enjoy.
All was going well on our journey to Scotney Castle and we followed the brown signs and turned off the A21 and then missed a turning to the right almost as soon as we had turned off. So be aware to have your eyes peeled the minute you leave the A21. Luckily we didn’t go too far and the lack of brown signs warned me I had made an error. Once on site there was a pleasant drive down a single road with plenty of passing places and then a good amount of parking at the end.
Toilets were convenient right by the parking and they were clean and well stocked. The café was also right by the entrance and the cream tea and chocolate cake that we had along with our drinks were good and fresh. We were not bowled over by the kids packed lunch offer to be honest, normally at NT sites we have found the kids can pick their own items to go in the pack but here it was set and not very imaginative. We didn’t have any of the hot meals or the fresh to order baguettes but lots came out and they all looked very good but as you expect with National Trust sites they were not cheap, probably about £7 or £8 a piece.
We moved through admission very quickly and were given a timed entry slot to the more modern house. Luckily our slot was straight away so we headed straight in there. The kids had a fun map of the home and there was something for them to spot in each room and a bit of history that was age appropriate. There were also laminated plans for the adults and these gave more detail and history. The house is beautiful and really well kept and it provides for a good hour or so tour around it. I found each of the NT staff that we spoke to knowledgeable and helpful and many really tried to engage the children and help them out with their questions.
Once we finished our tour of the house we started walking with the aim of going to the old castle but the kids spotted a discovery centre and we had to do a stop off there. This is a self-led area with loads of great information for the kids. They enjoyed doing brass leaf rubbings, watching out the big windows for birds, checking out the animal parts and preserved butterflies in the draws and generally reading and exploring all the nooks and crannies that are stuffed with information.
Next we headed off towards the old castle and took some detours through the grounds on the way, they really are very lovely and there is lots of great space for the kids to run and explore. Loads of levels to go up and down, so they won’t get bored.
I had not realised the old castle was a ruin but you can see how beautiful it would have been when fully intact. I was really interested to read that the family that first lived there were the Ashburnhams as I now live in the grounds of their ancestral home and it seemed such a coincidence of read of them here about 30 miles away.
In all we had a lovely time, this isn’t the best NT property I’ve been to but if you have membership it is definitely worth a visit and next time we go we will take my husband and explore the grounds more as there are 770 acres of beautiful land. The only thing that let it down on the day we visited was that there was scaffolding on the new house, as the roof needed fixing after last year’s storms and then when we got to the old castle there was scaffolding on that too as they were doing their annual maintenance and to be honest if I had paid for entry I would have been complaining as you could not get an uninterrupted and pretty picture of either building (I see it is now notified on the website, it wasn’t the day we visited).
If you are not a member then the cost of visiting Scotney Castle is £13 per adult and £6.50 for a child or you can get a family ticket for £32.50. if you like this sort of day out though I’d definitely recommend membership as we have used ours so much since I bought it in April and then I also bought membership as a gift for my parents too!
I’m not sure which NT site we will visit next, I know JJ has his eye on Chartwell as he loves learning about the second world war and as this was Churchill's home I imagine there is a good amount of information and artefact's there.
Do let me know if you have any NT recommendations for me in the Sussex, Kent, Surrey kind of areas. Thanks, Mich x
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