Kent Attractions: Great Days Out in Kent
When we arrived at Chiddingstone Castle on a sunny “post-lockdown” afternoon, we weren’t sure what to expect. We had been driving through the Kent countryside looking for a pub to enjoy a thirst-quenching beer when we saw signs for Chiddingstone. Always on the lookout for somewhere new to visit, we headed through the stone entry pillars and pulled up in the car park.
My first thought was how had I never heard of Chiddingstone Castle before. I’ve been to Scotney Castle many times, and it is practically around the corner, but regardless of that, I was so glad I was here today ready to explore what delights the castle and village had in store for me.
An honesty box is in the car park for your parking fee of £3 – a bargain, and if you want to BYO fishing equipment, then there is a £10 charge for fishing in the lake. So bring yourself, a picnic and, maybe your fishing gear and enjoy a perfect day out in Kent at Chiddingstone Castle.
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History of Chiddingstone Castle
The castle has Tudor origins, a connection you will see when you visit the village of Chiddingstone; accessible through the castle grounds. It was remodelled in the 1800s to represent a medieval castle complete with turrets and a doorway worthy of any stately building. The last owner was the renowned collector Denys Eyre Bower, who bought the castle in 1955 to house his extensive art collection.
His collection remains here despite his passing and contains artefacts from Egypt and the Far East. Some say that this is the second most important collection of Egyptian artefacts after the British Museum!
Unfortunately, the castle was closed on our visit, but we will return at a later date to have a look inside and enjoy some refreshments from the tea-rooms.
Check online to see what’s on at Chiddingstone Castle.
Walks Around Chiddingstone Castle Estate
Sensational views out across the countryside can be seen from the vantage point of the castle. Golden fields of wheat are a common crop grown in the UK and Kent, and you will see acres of them as you drive around the area.
Chiddingstone Castle Lake
A beautiful 3.5-acre lake complete with water-lilies is the centre-piece of the grounds. On my visit, the lake looked so pretty with ducks gliding across it and overhanging branches from the weeping-willow tree dipping themselves into the mysterious dark water. Anglers lined themselves up on the bank waiting for that elusive tug on the fishing rod; this was all such an English scene with the backdrop of the castle, and I loved it!
A bridge across the lake links the castle grounds to the village of Chiddingstone. Standing on the bridge reminded me of my visit to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny – I wonder whether there are any watercolours of Chiddingstone’s lake hanging inside the castle.
Chiddingstone Medieval Tudor Village
Outside the castle’s gates, we finally found a thirst-quenching beer at the 15th-century Castle Inn located in Chiddingstone – one of Kent’s oldest villages. Owned by the National Trust this one small street is the perfect example of a surviving medieval Tudor village.
The pub has a lovely outdoor garden seating area and several tables at the front, so there is plenty of space to enjoy a drink or a meal. Being my first venture to a pub since lockdown, I was happy to feel safe and secure with the social distancing measures they had put in place.
We wandered around the 17th-century church of St Mary’s, as I have a penchant for headstones and obituaries, before heading further up the village to discover the Chiding Stone legend, from where the castle and village take its name. On our way, we checked out Berghesh Court ad 1453 to visit the Tulip Tree Tea Rooms and popped into the post office/gift shop, believed to be the oldest working shop in the country and once owned by Anne Boleyn’s father!
The Chiding Stone
I know what you are thinking – probably the same as us. Who wants to visit a stone; however, this lump of stone is millions of years old and has many stories connected to it.
Local folklore claims it to be the place that nagging-wives or villains were “chided” (told off by the rest of the villagers); hence the name “Chiding Stone”. Another explanation was that it could have been a Saxon boundary marker or even a Druid’s altar. I would like to believe the latter that mystical things may have happened on this spot but whatever the truth is we will never know, so for now, I am happy to believe in folklore tales.
A visit to Chiddingstone Castle is the perfect way to spend a day in Kent.