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Visit Scotney Castle: Fairytale Ruins in the Kent Countryside

Visit Scotney Castle: Fairytale Ruins in the Kent Countryside

Scotney Castle, nestled in the lush Kent countryside, is a great place to visit to delve into England’s historical past. The estate features a romantic 14th-century moated castle ruin that wouldn’t look out of place in a fantasy film, a Victorian manor house and glorious gardens and woodland.

Visit Scotney castle and gardens and discover its secrets, including a dinosaur’s footprint in the quarry and a priest hole used to hide priests during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536.

Take a walk around Scotney’s lake and step inside the manor house to learn about the history of one of Kent’s most fascinating properties.

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Scotney Old Castle Ruins

Built in the 14-century, Scotney Castle has had numerous owners, including relatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The old castle has also witnessed many monarchs and wars over the centuries and has a formidable “priest hole” built into its walls as a hiding place for priests. Amazingly, this was used in the 16th century to hide a priest for seven years when the Crown persecuted Catholics.

The stunning ruins are surrounded by a lake complete with ducks, swans and lilypads where budding photographers can capture beautiful, timeless images of Scotney castle. Visitors can walk through the old castle’s gothic archways and sit in its grassy area to absorb this magical setting.

If you are a fan of ruins, then nearby Bayham Old Abbey will be of interest to you

Scotney Manor House

Designed in the 19th century for Edward Hussey lll by the architect Antony Salvin, Scotney Manor House is built with sandstone quarried from the estate. Today the quarry is a garden complete with the imprint of a dinosaur’s footprint, which was discovered during construction works. Imagine, 100 million years ago, a dinosaur would have been wandering around these grounds!

The manor house was purposely built on the highest point of the estate giving sweeping views down to the old castle ruins, which Salvin and Hussey purposely transformed into “gothic ruins” to be the focal point of the newly landscaped gardens.

Christopher Hussey eventually passed away in 1970, leaving Scotney Castle and Gardens to become one of Kent’s National Trust properties.

His widow continued to live in the house until 2007, in which time it was also used by Margaret Thatcher, who held an office here and appeared in the 1979 film Yanks, starring Richard Gere. 

Following Mrs Hussey’s death, the manor house was opened to the public, allowing visitors a look inside this fascinating heritage property. National Trust members are admitted for free.

Views down to Scotney Old Castle
The view from the manor house to Scotney castle ruins

Walled Garden

Pops of pastel-coloured flowers interspersed with vibrant bedding plants make the walled garden a charming place to see. Several wooden benches dotted around the entrance give visitors a place to rest and enjoy this tranquil area.

Angie sitting on a stone wall next to the moat and beside Scotney Old Castle Ruins
Pastel coloured flowers and shrubs in Scotney Castle walled garden
Macro image of bumble bee taking flight from a pink flower

Circular Moat Walk

A short walk around the castle’s moat will lead you back to the manor house. On the way, look for the old boathouse and its reflection on the water. Another great spot for photographers to capture some watery images.

If you are looking for some longer trails, the estate has over 780 acres of Grade-I listed parkland, woodland, and hop gardens to explore. You can pick up a Scotney Castle map at the ticket entrance.

Image of Scotney Old Castle reflecting into the water in the moat
A wooden bridge walkway covered with trees growing to form an arch
Scotney Boathouse
View of a long pathway leading up the hill to Scotney Manor House

Time for Tea and Cake

On your way out, don’t forget to stop at the Scotney Castle Tearooms for hot or cold refreshments. There is indoor and outdoor seating and, on hot days, an ice cream kiosk for all the little and big kids with you!

Afterwards, pop into the National Trust shop for delicious chutneys, cakes and jams, and plenty of Scotney souvenirs to remind you of your day at one of the most beautiful castles in Kent.

A blue door leading out to Scotney tea rooms and shop and framed by pink hydrangea
Tea Rooms set in the old Scotney clockhouse and stables

Need To Know Information

Scotney Castle is in Lamberhurst, a 20-minute drive from Royal Tunbridge Wells. It is also near Bayham Old Abbey Ruins, Bedgebury Pinetum, and Bewl Water, offering you a perfect day or weekend exploring some of the best places in Kent.

How to Get to Scotney Castle

By Car: Take the A21 to Lamberhurst and look for signs for Scotney Castle; there is plenty of parking on-site.

By Train: London Bridge Station to Tunbridge Wells and then jump in a taxi to the castle (it takes about 20mins).

Where to Stay in Lamberhurst

The Vineyard Lamberhurst

Where to Stay in Tunbridge Wells

Hotel Du Vin Tunbridge Wells

Glamping at Honiton Farm

The Royal Wells Hotel

Where To Eat

If you are looking for a local pub, try The Chequers in the picturesque nearby village of Lamberhurst.

Please Pin for Future Travel to the UK

Are you looking for other things to do in Kent? Please check out the following posts:

 Visit Godinton House and Gardens

Explore Chiddingstone Castle and Medieval Village

Spend A Day in Dungeness – England’s only Desert

Take a Stroll Around Goudhurst Village

Candy Korb

Wednesday 19th of October 2022

My first newsletter from you, and I discover this lovely place! I've lived in Kent for 23 years and never heard of this place!! Can't wait to plan a visit. Great photos!


Wednesday 19th of October 2022

That's great to hear, Candy; I'm so pleased I have highlighted somewhere new for you to visit. I hope my newsletters continue to give you inspiration

Tilly Jaye Horseman

Monday 2nd of May 2022

I've always thought this place looks stunning in photos, but seeing your pics shows there's a heck of a lot more to see there than most places and websites show! Living in NW England, I've still never been to Kent, but I really want to get down that way sometime to see all the fabulous places I know are there! Will bookmark your blog to come back to for sure when that trip gets planned! 🤩💜


Monday 2nd of May 2022

I am so pleased my post on Scotney Castle has been useful to you. Kent is full of castles, coastline, charming villages and beautiful countryside so I am sure you would enjoy a trip to explore this county.


Saturday 17th of October 2020

I think it would look pretty spectacular with winter snow too if its open


Wednesday 21st of October 2020

Yes I imagine the photographs would be sensational.


Saturday 17th of October 2020

I will add this to my list of places to visit in spring 2021.


Friday 16th of October 2020

This looks absolutely heavenly. I can imagine wandering around the castle and those wonderful gardens is very relaxing and serene. I loved the photos of all the old walls - it looks so atmospheric!


Friday 16th of October 2020

it is a beautiful place to visit and thankfully in the UK there are lots of castles similar to this. Its made this year a lot more bearable!