The South Cottage at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Home to Vita Sackville-West's bedroom and Harold Nicolson's book room, this atmospheric house sits in the middle of the garden as a retreat away from the world.

The South Cottage was the intimate retreat of famous residents Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Visitors now have the chance to explore this little-known private space of one of the most influential couples in literary history, including Harold’s book room where he carried out much of his writing. 

The atmospheric cottage sits at the heart of the garden and has enjoyed the company of a variety of characters. If walls could talk, they’d tell of Harold designing the lime walk, the daily thoughts of its fascinating inhabitants and the tapping of typewriter keys crafting their next book. 

A volunteer room guide in the South Cottage, Sissinghurst Castle Garden
A volunteer room guide talks to a visitor at Sissinghurst Castle Garden
A volunteer room guide in the South Cottage, Sissinghurst Castle Garden

The cottage was the place where Harold worked, writing in his book room overlooking the sunset colours of the Cottage Garden, and where Vita tended sick plants, in the flower room, before crossing the garden to her own writing room in the Tower. A seeming island amidst a sea of flowers, the cottage is in fact part of a wider, ‘village-house’, and the family lived between the cottage, the Priest’s House and the front range – with the garden knitting these buildings together.  

The South Cottage was built from a fragment of the great Elizabethan mansion of the Bakers. Together with the Priest’s House and the Tower it was one of the first buildings at Sissinghurst to be addressed by Vita and Harold, who drew up plans for an extension to the north in 1932.  Today, the cottage remains much as they would have known it and Harold’s description in 1933 reveals his affection for the building:

" The sitting-room is lovely except that the opening is too big.  My bedroom, w.c. and bathroom are divine.  The primroses are superb.  Dine. Bed. Rebecca curled up beside me.  Home. *"
- Harold Nicolson

* Rebecca was a wire-haired terrier.

The South Cottage has over the years been maintained as a writing haven by the Nicolson family, and much of the original décor remains. As visitors step through the low door-frame, they will find themselves immersed in a retreat away from the world. 

Experience our colourful spring planting
The spring planting of red, orange and yellow tulips, euphorbia and wallflowers in the Cottage Garden at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
Experience our colourful spring planting

Tours run daily in the South Cottage and give a wealth of knowledge to the intimate spaces of Vita and Harold, free flow of the cottage is also available when tours aren't running. Please note that the cottage has a limited capacity to best allow us to open safely, with social distancing measures in place. 

You will need to navigate narrow paths to reach the South Cottage which may be slippery, please wear appropriate footwear.

Unfortunately there is no wheelchair access to the cottage.

Upcoming events

Nature Indoors at Sissinghurst: ‘A flowerless room is a soul-less room’

Sat 28 May 2022
11:00-17:30
Nature Indoors at Sissinghurst: ‘A flowerless room is a soul-less room’ - Our new exhibition explores Vita and Harold's love off the botanical not only in their garden but within their living space as well.

Volunteer Recruitment Coffee Morning

Tue 07 Jun 2022
09:30-10:30
Find out more about volunteering at Sissinghurst Castle Garden on 7 June or 15 July. Have a chat with our teams and enjoy free refreshments.

Evening Garden Tours

Tue 07 Jun 2022
17:45-19:45
Join us at Sissinghurst Castle Garden for a volunteer led Evening Garden Tour.

Morning Garden Tours

Fri 24 Jun 2022
09:30-11:00
Join us at Sissinghurst Castle Garden for a volunteer led Morning Garden Tour.

Summer Nights at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Thu 30 Jun 2022
18:00-21:00
This summer see the garden in the evening sunshine, enjoy a tour and three course meal on a summer night.

'Another World Than This' -Charlotte Smithson

Sat 23 Jul 2022
11:00-17:30
This summer, Sissinghurst will host a specially-commissioned art installation by Charlotte Smithson, a Manchester-based artist whose work blends design, craft and botany.