Garden Portrait: Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle and Garden lies in west Kent close to Lamberhurst village and is one of the most romantic landscape gardens designed in the picturesque style. The planting is very natural with the ruins of the 14† century Old Castle at its centre. The ‘new’ castle was built in 1835 which was when the gardens around the ruins were created by Edward Hussey III.

View of the Old Castle from the Bastion

Terraces lead to a viewing point, the semi-circular bastion, with views over the Quarry Garden with its sandstone features, azaleas, ferns and other flowering shrubs towards the Old Castle and moat. There is a small triangular rose garden with a Venetian font and a lion’s-head fountain nearby and steps and paths lead down the Lime Walk and onto the main lawn before reaching the boathouse.

The Boathouse and the Sweet Gum tree

Autumn is a good time to visit with lots of oranges, reds and yellows bursting across the landscape. There are many beautiful trees in this garden including Japanese Acers, Sweet Gums, a Tulip tree and a Black Tulepo. My visit was in early September so too soon for much autumn colour, but it did mean that some plants were still flowering in the herbaceous borders and the rose garden.

The lawns are edged with mature trees and rhododendrons, kalmia and other shrubs and the Sweet Bourne fringed by trees feeds the moat. The walk leads to the stream garden and across a Chinese bridge where you will find a Henry Moore sculpture.

Sculpture by Henry Moore on the isthmus

The walk continues along the south-east side of the moat, with views focused on the house above the gardens, then returns along the north-west side to reach the approach to the Old Castle, which lies on the north-east of the two islands in the moat and forms the scenic focus of the garden landscape.

The path leads across a stone causeway and between remnants of stone gate piers leading into the Castle courtyard which contains a circular bed enclosed by yew hedges and herb beds.


The remains of the Old Castle (listed grade I), built in 1370, are of sandstone, with the single tower of the four possible originals, topped by its C17 conical roof and lantern, standing in the south corner of the curtain-walled island. It is like something out of a fairytale.


Size: 30 acres (12 hectares)

Thanks to Historic England for details contained in this post.

If you like a walk, long or short, then please visit Jo for her regular strolls in the UK and the Algarve and maybe you would like to join in too. She’s very welcoming.

50 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s garden visits like these that inspire me to get out and do a little more in my own garden. It’s much smaller and more manageable than this one would be though. Lovely photos, Jude.

    1. Heyjude says:

      If I could just get one border as gorgeous as some of the ones I see in the large gardens then I would be more than happy. I love to see the planting ideas in these gardens.

      1. I’ve decided to jazz up my rose garden with a nice colourful border, but one plant at a time. That way I should be able to keep it alive until it’s established. We got our first rain since November yesterday and it was nice, steady soaking rain all day, overnight and into today. Very welcome.

        1. Heyjude says:

          We are expecting snow this week. Snow! Even down here! I shall be very surprised.

  2. susurrus says:

    You paint an alluring portrait. I’d never heard of this garden, but it’s gone straight on to my (lengthy) southern-gardens-to-visit list. And, as a bonus, I just discovered your own list of gardens around the world on the links below – what a wonderful resource. It’s a pity that The Reader redirects people who might otherwise linger around and exploring the actual blog – yours is a rainy day gardening treasure trove.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Oh, thank you Susan. That is one of the nicest comments I have ever received.

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    What a blissful place and so blissfully captured here. We used to live in Kent. I can’t imagine why we never came here, apart from the fact that we seemed to have problems navigating our way out of Medway. We’d goo too used to there being only one main road in Kenya.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Kent has some of the most magnificent gardens (as has the rest of the SE) If it wasn’t so expensive and crowded to live there I would have been very happy with all the gardens to visit.

  4. Sue says:

    A good few years since I visited Scotney…and I was lucky because the sun was low, marvellous light!

  5. restlessjo says:

    You’ve been sitting on this one well, Jude. It’s fabulous! 🙂 🙂 One to drool over. And thank you for not forgetting me. The walk I did today will almost certainly be my next Monday walk, when I get round to it. No self discipline, you see 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      No need to link this. I have had a few waiting in the wings for some time, just getting around the editing the photos to use. Nothing much new happening at the moment. Even the sunsets have abandoned me!

      1. restlessjo says:

        Too late! I love it and I linked it immediately. It’s easier that way xx

  6. lifeinkarolingston says:

    Great photos and look stunning!

  7. RuthsArc says:

    Thanks for this post Jude. We have many happy memories visiting this delightful NT property.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have only made it once, but it is a very charming place.

  8. Patrick says:

    Stunning. My two favorite images are the wooden doors and the stone arch framing the garden beyond. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      The wooden doors are lovely as are the steps. This is a pretty spot in the garden. Every garden should have a ruin in it 😀

  9. Robyn Haynes says:

    A fairy tale indeed! The gardens are stunning and your photos are equally beautiful, Jude. How much area does this property sit on?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Goodness, now you are asking! No idea, but it is big!

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        I get big, Jude. It would be something to see.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Looked it up (and added to the post) it sits on 30 acres or 12 hectares.

        2. Robyn Haynes says:

          Oh thanks Jude! That’s a lot of upkeep!

        3. Heyjude says:

          Head gardener and lots of volunteers I suppose!

  10. rusty duck says:

    The castle makes a beautiful backdrop to a lovely garden. You almost can’t fail when gifted a setting such as that, but the Trust have certainly made the most of it. A definite to visit if I’m ever down that way.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Kent has so many lovely gardens to visit, but this one is very romantic with the old ruin and the pond.

  11. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Ahh glorious photos, I’ve known about this place forever but still haven’t been!

    1. Heyjude says:

      You must on your next visit to the south-east. It is a very romantic place. Must be nice in the summer (this was early September).

  12. Joanne Sisco says:

    OH MY!

    This place looks storybook perfect. Everything is so lush and green, and a turret! {swoon}
    Your adventures take you to the most beautiful locations. I could start to list favourite photos, but there would be too many of them.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is a very romantic garden. Probably better in mid-summer when all the roses are in flower.

      1. Joanne Sisco says:

        It’s spectacular enough that I would want to visit in every season!

        1. Heyjude says:

          Ah, but there are soooo many delightful gardens in the south-east that it is almost impossible to keep returning to the same one.

        2. Joanne Sisco says:

          I would imagine that someone at some point has put together books / tour guides of *all* the gardens. I would be one of those people feverishly trying to work my way through the book 😉

        3. Heyjude says:

          I have a book by the National Trust of all their gardens, which I am slowly working my way through 🙂

  13. BeckyB says:

    Wow! This is stunning, absolutely stunning.

    I’d happily change my mind about moving further west and would move east to live here!! Great shots and lovely prose as always Jude 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      The south-east has some amazing gardens to visit. Expensive region to live in though. And I much prefer the coast in Cornwall, much more varied and picturesque than those straight, pebble-strewn strips of ‘beach’.

      1. BeckyB says:

        Hoping its expense will work to our advantage when we head west!!! Agree with you on the beaches. I’ve decided what I’d really like to overlook is an estuary.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Not many of those in Cornwall. Maybe around the Fal? Some nice places there (and some very expensive ones too like Flushing). Or the Exe in Devon.

        2. BeckyB says:

          I’ll keep you posted!

        3. Heyjude says:

          The Helford river is nice 🙂

        4. BeckyB says:

          Adding it to the list right now!!!

  14. Ali says:

    I love seeing the sunlight and colours of summer. We don’t live far from Scotney. You have reminded me I need to visit!

    1. Heyjude says:

      There are a lot of lovely gardens in the south-east to visit. You are lucky being so close.

  15. pommepal says:

    Such an inspiring garden. The reflections of the castles in the lake are just exquisite. You would need a big team of gardeners to keep it looking so good.

    1. Heyjude says:

      National Trust so I am sure there will be a team of gardeners and volunteers.

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