“You can learn a lot of things from the flowersFor especially in the month of JuneThere’s a wealth of happiness and romanceAll in the golden afternoon” – Alice in Wonderland
I can really relate to that Alice in Wonderland song and it gets stuck in my head every time I leave the house at the moment. There are many beautiful locations around the world but I truly believe nothing can top an English garden or the English countryside in general.
As I write this, the windows are open, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining and I can just see a sea of green dotted by pink roses. I could leave the house at 6am and not come back till 9pm and for all those hours the sun would be shining. For June sees our longest day of the year, and in England the days can stretch as long as 12 hours, making it the ultimate month to explore.
Last week I headed to Kent, also known as ‘The Garden of England’, and for good reason. I visited a number of country houses and gardens, and even stayed in the beautiful North Kent Downs, but three days was not long enough. The county of Kent is dotted with 21 National Trust properties, this is enough to keep you occupied for weeks, let alone days, and there are still more beautiful houses and gardens that do not fall under the National Trust ownership.
Below I write about just some of the beautiful places I visited…
Ightham Mote is a moated medieval manor house close to Sevenoaks, dating back to the 14th century. Over the 700 years of its existence, the house has been owned by many fascinating people, including Medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians.
Whilst the house itself is stunning and can be explored by guests, the real high point for me were the stunning gardens it was encompassed by.
Once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle boasts over 700 years of fascinating history. The house today has been largely modified by William Waldorf Astor who used his fortune to extend Hever Castle in the early 20th century.
The award-winning gardens spread across 125 acres and boasts a Pompeiian Wall alongside an authentic Italian Garden and over 4000 rose bushes in the English Rose Garden.
Set amongst 35 acres of beautiful countryside, Chiddingstone Castle is a historic house and museum dating back to the Tudor times. The building has gone through multiple changes since it was first completed in the early 1500’s and even became a school at one point.
Cream tea is served in the tea room and courtyard alongside delicious cakes, tea, coffee and light lunches.
Sissinghurst Castle, in my opinion, has some of the most beautiful gardens in the whole of England. These world-renowned gardens were inspired by the poems and writings of Vita Sackville-West who began transforming the castle along with her husband in the 1930s.
The castle itself was a prison in the 1700s and later became home to the women’s land army, it has even been a family home over the years.
The month of June is best if you want to admire Sissinghurst’s magnificent roses, originally planted by Vita herself who loved the romance of this beautiful flower. The rose garden now stands where the kitchen once was, and years after Vita passed away it became apparent only 100 species of her original roses remained. Since 2014 with the help of the National Trust, Vita’s original rose collection is nearing its former glory and the garden is just as colourful and fragrant as when it began.
Scotney Castle is a country house, romantic garden and 14th-century moated castle that was purposefully ruined to become a garden feature when the new house was built.
The original castle was first occupied in 1137 and in 1778 it became home to the Hussey Family who left it to the National Trust in the 1970s.