Monday 1 June 2020

Visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden, National Trust, Kent

Sissinghurst Castle Garden Header

I seriously can not wait for the lockdown to be over and we can all start to get out more and visit great National Trust places again. I know that things will be different, numbers will be limited, distancing will be enforced etc for quite some time but I'm happy to book and wait my turn to visit some amazing places once again. 

Literally just before lockdown started we had the pleasure of visiting Sissinghurst Castle Garden at Cranbrook in Kent, this is under an hour from where we live and we had an enjoyable few hours there with Miss E, one Sunday afternoon.

Sissinghurst has a very long history, and the Tudor buildings were used as a prison back in the 18th century as well as being a private family residence, then in the 19th century, it became a poor house with around 100 men living and working there before it went back to the Cornwallis family. In 1930 the house was sold to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson who lived there until Vita's death in 1962 when Harold gave the property to the National Trust.

In the time they lived there, they cultivated the now world-famous gardens that you can stroll around and enjoy. 

Sissinghurst Castle Garden Tower

It's fun to take a walk up the spiral staircase in the tower (78 steps) to see were Vita used to work, writing novels, poems and letters. There are great views from the top and I felt very safe up there, as the walls are high enough. 

Views from Sissinghurst Castle Garden Tower

Spring plants in pots

The gardens really are a delight as you wander around, there is the Orchard, Rose Garden, White Garden, Herb Garden, South Cottage Garden, The Nuttery, Purple Border, Moat Walk and the Lime Walk.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden Tower

There is also the Delos garden, which was inspired by Vita and Harolds visits to Greece. At the moment the team are working on a project to recreate this garden and bring it back to its former glory. You can visit an exhibition and watch a short film to explain the work and the vision.

The new Delos garden

Exhibition about recreating the Delos garden

I really enjoyed looking around the library, that has recently been opened up to the public.

Views inside the library

Shopping, Eating and Drinking

There is the Granary restaurant close to the main house and we had a delicious cheese scone and a cup of tea there. It does hot food between 12 -3pm each day when it is open and there is also a kids menu. There is also a coffee shop with a great selection of cakes, sandwiches and soup. This is right next to the second-hand bookshop and also a shop selling loads of great plants and garden ornaments.

The main shop is beautiful and is located in the old Piggery. There is a really great selection of gifts from pocket money toys, right through to beautiful planters and statues.

Shops and cafe at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Useful Information

Address: Biddenden Road, near Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 2AB 
Telephone Number: 01580 710700 
Opening Hours: Check on the NT website for the current hours
Prices: Summer opening (7 March - 31 October for the full property) Adult is £14.50, a child is £7.25 and a family is £36.25. Winter prices are slightly less as not everything is open. 
Car parking: Free for members and £4 for non-members. 
Food & Drink: Fabulous granary restaurant and also the Old Diary coffee shop. No picnicking in the formal gardens, but you can in the veg garden or in the wider estate. There are benches opposite the visitor reception. 
Dogs: Are welcome on leads in the wider estate but not in the formal gardens
Accessibility: There are lots of changes in level, steps and slopes in the formal gardens. The paths can be narrow and can become slippy in wet weather, so great care is needed and they are not suitable for pushchairs. Wheelchair users may also struggle. Please check the accessibility information online 

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