Whether you’re looking for a somewhere grand to explore, or just the perfect spot to set up your picnic on the floor we’ve got you covered with our selection of exciting castles and gardens.So, buckle up your walking boots and pack your picnic blankets to explore these wonderful castles and gardens, set in Kent’s calm countryside, and even cityscapes!
History is teeming out of Canterbury, so we’ve certainly got to include it in this piece! Known worldwide, the towers of Canterbury Cathedral are the icon of the city, but little known are the gardens that are tucked behind the main building itself. Starting off, The Memorial Garden is a tranquil place that offers visitors the chance to frame the Bell Harry Tower with seasonal flowers; heading around the back of the Cathedral near the Cloisters, the Herb Garden is a 16th century medicinal herb garden that was once the monastic dormitory and is home to plants for brewing and cooking
Over in Medway, Rochester Castle's Norman tower-keep was built by William of Corbeil in the 12th Century and reaches 113 feet tall. You can take a tour around the remarkable remains and contemplate its rich history, with some perfectly framing Rochester Cathedral opposite - which is where to head for a dive into the natural world as the Cathedral has a beautiful seasonal garden that has been occupied since the 7th century. Just across the River Medway is the quaint village of Upnor, which is home to Upnor Castle, an artillery fort to protect the vitally important river built in 1559.
Wander around the vibrant gardens at one of the National Trust’s gorgeous gardens. Step into the history of Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, once home to the women’s land’s army, it’s now a scene of calm and tranquility. Sit among nature for a breath of fresh air, then head to the plant shop where you can browse an array of flourishing flowers to brighten up your own garden. Alternatively, indulge yourself in a trip to the thirteenth century Hever Castle, once the childhood home of the noble Anne Boleyn. Absorb the Castle’s deep history and amble round the peaceful moat surrounding the castle itself, then unleash your inner adventurer and try to escape from the winding paths of the Yew Maze. If you've got some more steps in you, venture into the Italian Garden and rolling surrounds of trees and plants which are kept immaculate...
Looking for a place to have a picnic? Hunt no further! Set in the heart of the west Kentish countryside, Ightham Mote has hosted medieval knights to King Henry VII’s courtiers. Its stunning surrounds are the idyllic afternoon, with a Victorian Walled Garden, the primary moated house and plenty more, travel back in time peacefully! Over in the very tip of the other side of the county, Quex Park is a manor house and parkland with plenty to offer the family for at least a day. It's a local favourite as it has its own craft shop, museum (Powell-Cotton Museum), alpaca trekking and a handful of eating and drinking spots - no wonder the locals love it!
Spice up your day-off by taking a trip to the Riverhill Himalayan Gardens. Set near Sevenoaks in Kent, the gardens are known for their blanket of bluebells in the woodland in early spring and array of vivid rhododendrons and delicate azaleas in late spring. With magnificent sweeping views and rare ancient trees, the Riverhill gardens have a hub of glorious nature to view. Once you have explored the greenery, why not treat yourself to something tasty from the café and enjoy your cosy beverage in the crisp air of the gardens? gardens
Enjoy the impeccable work of architect Samuel Wyatt with a journey to the imperial Belmont house and Gardens. If you’re looking for something quirky, this house has accumulated one of the largest personal collections of clocks in the country. With a delightful range of traditional and modern style gardens Belmont House has an abundance of fantastic fruits and floral displays. Get inspired by the intriguing collection of antiques at Chiddingstone Castle. Remodelled in the 19th Century to resemble a Medieval castle, this eloquent house is filled with Denys Eyre Bower’s personal collection of antiques from around the world. From fascinating Stuart and Jacobite trinkets to Japanese items, there are plenty of pieces that will feed your curiosity.
Pace peacefully around the picture perfect Penshurst Place. Stroll through the exquisite 40 acres of gardens and then indoors, ponder the mixture of marvellous paintings, tapestries and fancy furniture that line the former dwelling of the Sidney family. Let the kids expend their boundless energy in the gardens or take a look at some royal toys through time at the fascinating toy museum? Nearby, head over to Scotney Castle to roam the romantic garden and 14th Century moated castle, situated in a gorgeously green woodland area - you've probably seen it on Instagram a fair amount!
Relax in the gardens the serenely sublime Godinton House. Set in 12 acres of glorious greenery, dive into the house’s Jacobean history. Then explore the unique carvings, furniture and porcelain collated by those who have lived there. The homely feel extends throughout the rooms and gardens to the much-loved Billiard room where you can taste delicious home-made cakes and refreshments. Immerse yourself in luxury when visiting Walmer Castle, the former residence of famous faces from the Duke of Wellington, to the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Explore the exhibits that bring the Duke's career to life with an exclusive look at the original Wellington boots and then take in the extraordinary views of sublime scenery, from the Queen Mother’s garden to the long and luscious Broadwalk garden - we could easily spend a day wandering around the green and colourful space.
Previously home to King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, the fantastic Leeds Castle is steeped in intriguing history. Follow the story of the castle and its grounds from room to room with visual displays and interactive activities to entice everyone. Stroll around the gigantic grounds, filled with striking horticultural displays and adventurous areas like the winding maze, complete with unique underworld grotto. Then head inside to immerse yourself in a world of paintings, treasures and antique clothing styles. Are you a dog lover? Enjoy learning about the evolution of canine collars throughout the years spanning five centuries.
While Dover Castle sits perched above the town below, atop the iconic White Cliffs, you can only wonder about what it has seen in its time - from the Romans building an early lighthouse (which still stands there today) to the wars that the castle helped win for the Allies with its secret wartime tunnels and hospital, plus everything in between such as Royal visits and banquets - it's safe to say a visit to Dover Castle makes for a vibrant day out! If you time your day there for an event, you can even take in a spot of jousting to summer quests which bring this wonderfully interesting site to life.