The history of Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Our past is a complicated one; spanning many centuries, monarchs and uses. Delve into the past of one of the most intriguing places in the Weald of Kent.
How Sissinghurst became a castle
Sissinghurst in the 19th century
In 1796 the Cranbrook 'Councillors' took out a lease on Sissinghurst from the owners at the time, the Mann-Cornwallis family, this was to be used as a poor house for the able bodied. Around 100 men were offered housing, employment and food. The owners repaired many of the buildings, their legacy is apparent even today, on the weather vanes you can see the markings MC 1839. The inmates worked the farm which became profitable for the local parish. When the estate reverted back to the Cornwallis family in 1855 it was the beginning of a great period of Victorian 'high farming,' the Sissinghurst farm was deemed to be the best on the whole of the substantial Cornwallis estate.
Sissinghurst in the early 1930s
When Vita Sackville-West and Harold purchased Sissinghurst in early 1930 it looked quite different to the present day. The buildings were used to house farm workers, the current famous garden had yet to be laid out and was mostly growing vegetables for the workers. The surrounding farm was growing cereals as well as having well established orchards and hop gardens.
The Women's Land Army
Vita and a group of her 'shillingses'
Sissinghurst in the 1940s
Sissinghurst in the 1950s
The last private owners of Sissinghurst
Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson were the last private owners of Sissinghurst Castle. After Vita's death in 1962, Harold decided that Vita's beloved Sissinghurst should be given over to the care of the National Trust. We started taking care of it in 1967.