Skip to content

The garden and estate at Scotney Castle

A bench amid late summer flowers in a walled garden
Enjoy the peace of the walled garden | © Laurence Perry

With the garden and estate at Scotney Castle covering more than 780 acres there is plenty to see, from the moated ruined 14th-century castle to the walled garden and Grade I listed parkland. There are wonderful views to take in as you explore the landscape through the different seasons.

Stone steps and autumn foliage on a misty morning
Why not explore the Quarry Garden at Scotney? | © Laurence Perry

The garden at Scotney Castle

The garden was created in the late 1830s at the same time as the house allowing the two to work together to create the perfect country home. The then owner, Edward Hussey III, had the vision to transform medieval Scotney Castle from a damp and derelict dwelling into a charming ruin that would become the centrepiece of his romantic and naturalistic landscape. Working with architect, Anthony Salvin and landscape designer, William Sawrey Gilpin, Scotney Castle represents one of the last and most successful expressions of the Picturesque movement.

The view from the semi-circular Bastion above the Quarry Garden to the moated castle ruin is breath-taking in all seasons, whether it is bare frost-covered branches and mist rising from the moat in winter, the colourful azaleas, rhododendrons and kalmia in spring and summer, or the flaming reds and oranges of the acers in the autumn.

The old English roses clambering up the walls of the Old Castle and the surrounding herbaceous beds provide picture-perfect backdrops in summer. The grass terraces around the house are deliberately left long over the summer to protect and encourage the rare green-winged orchids that flower there in spring. This plant was in decline after the Second World War but, thanks to this management approach, they now thrive in these lawns alongside many other species of wildflower.

Wandering through the garden you will also discover the quarry garden, the ice house thatched with heather, the Victorian boat house on the moat and the old bowling green as well as the chalybeate spring, acres of wild meadows, giant sequoias, and the stream that feeds the castle moat. You will also find the Badger and Pepper play area for younger children.

The walled garden

The one-acre walled garden was built around 1840 to provide the Hussey household with fresh fruit and vegetables. Its unusual octagonal shape maximises the amount of growing space for the fan-trained and espaliered fruit trees - apricot, peach, cherry, plum, greengage, apple, quince and pear - growing up the walls. Other features of note are the original watering-can dipping pond and, in the far left corner, a huge and ancient crab apple tree which is covered in white blossom in spring.

Autumn in the garden

As late summer eases into autumn, the herbaceous border at the old castle moves into its final phase of colour before resting for the winter. Fiery orange dahlias, star-like pink and purple Michaelmas daisies, and sedum and achillea in autumnal hues make sure it goes out with a dazzling firework display of colours.

Slightly tucked away, the West Glade can often be missed by visitors but, with its waterways, islands, winding paths and towering redwoods, it is a delightful place to walk and sit. Look out for the pretty strawberry-like fruits and vivid orange leaves of the Cornus kousa tree.

On the boat house island is the Liquidamber or Sweet Gum, probably Scotney's most dramatic tree for autumn colour. Its stunning leaves, turning green to purple, crimson, orange and yellow reflect back from the moat doubling its imact. But all across the garden the trees will be putting on their autumn colours: the yellow cat-faced leaves of the Tulip trees, the copper and purples of the ancient acers in the Quarry Garden, and the spectacular orange and russet of deciduous conifer, the Swamp Cypress.

In the Walled Garden it's harvest time for squash, pumpkins, apples, quince and pears. Elsewhere it's time to start to get the garden ready for bed. In West Glade the giant, prehistoric-looking Gunnera will be cut back, their leaves piled onto their tender crowns to give protection over the winter, and the grassy banks around the mansion house and the meadows beyond will be mown. This deliberate conservation management technique gives time for the rare green-winged orchids and other wildflowers that bloom here in spring to set their seed.

Fungi start to appear in the garden and on the estate. Look out for fairy rings of parasol mushrooms and stunning fly agarics as well as ink caps, puffballs and scarelet waxcaps. For a wonderful autumn walk, head out of the garden and onto the estate to Kilndown Woods with its leaf-carpeted woodland floor and stunning ancient beech avenue arching overhead.

If you'd like to learn more about the history and design of the garden at Scotney you can join a free guided garden walk. Details available here: Events at Scotney Castle (

Autumn leaves in the foreground at Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Kent, with the ruins of the fourteenth-century moated castle in the distance
Autumn leaves at Scotney Castle | © National Trust Images/David Sellman

The estate at Scotney Castle

The ancient parkland and Wealden woodlands surrounding the house and garden are criss-crossed by waymarked routes and offer fantastic views of the Old Castle, garden and house.

780 acres to explore

The Scotney Castle estate has a long and varied history. The Grade I listed parkland, full of magnificent veteran trees, shows its association with a formal dwelling for over 1,000 years, and offers great views of the old castle, garden and mansion.

The native-breed Sussex cattle have been a proud feature of the landscape since Victorian times but sheep have been grazed for even longer.

The woodlands are characteristic of the Wealden landscape and cover 300 acres of the estate; they boast connections with wood-pasture, charcoal production, iron working and the once lucrative hop industry.

The tenant farmer at Little Scotney Farm still grows, picks and dries hops; these are then used by a local brewery to make craft beers, some of which you can buy in the Scotney shop. This is the only National Trust property to have a working hop farm and regular guided hop walks are held in the early autumn.

Discover more with a guided estate walk

Between March and early November you can join one of our estate guides on a tour around the estate to see seasonal flora and fauna and learn about the history of Scotney.

These guided estate walks are scheduled to run seven days a week, twice a day at 11.30am and 2pm and last around 90 minute. They are led by our volunteer guides and occasionally we do have to cancel a walk due to absence. This can sometimes be at short notice. If you are planning to visit Scotney specifically for the guided estate walk we suggest you call us on 01892 893820 before you set off on the day to confirm.

Scotney Castle estate in winter
Scotney Castle estate in winter | © David Sellman

Family-friendly fun

Much of the garden has accessible all-weather paths and, with 780 acres of wider estate, there's lots of space for little legs to run, cllmb, explore and let off steam. Look out for the giant tree swing by the new orchard.

For den-making and wild play head to Colliers Wood or, for younger children, the Badger and Pepper play area has musical instruments, a toddler swing, play hut, ball chute and mud kitchen.

There are buggy-accessible toilets and changing facilities in the Courtyard and children's lunch boxes are available in the tea-room.

See how many of your '50 things' you can tick off, or check the Scotney What's On boards or web pages to find details of additional events and activities for families and children.


Picnic blankets are welcome in the garden, however chairs and tables can only be used on the wider estate. If you enjoy a picnic on the estate please be aware livestock may be present. Dogs must be kept on a lead and please take all your litter home with you. (There are rubbish bins in the tea-room courtyard if you need them.)

The mansion house at Scotney Castle in winter

Discover more at Scotney Castle

Find out when Scotney Castle is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

A bowl of soup

Eating at Scotney Castle 

As the days get a bit chillier there's nothing better than coming in from a walk on the estate to a bowl of delicious, warming homemade soup in the tea-room.

Small light brown dog in foreground on large lawn, with Pooch Passport resting on grass

Visiting Scotney Castle with your dog 

Pick up your Pooch Passport and start collecting stamps towards a tasty treat. Take a walk through the estate together or soak up the beauty of the formal garden. Here's everything you need to know about bringing your dog to Scotney Castle, a 3 paw print National Trust place.

A black and white archive photo of hop pickers working around a hop crib next to the bines, from a collection at Scotney Castle, Kent

Memories of the Kent hop fields 

Growing and harvesting hops is a big part of the Scotney Castle estate’s history. Discover Anne’s story, who picked hops nearby in the 1950s.

A close-up of a hand gently brushing a dusty surface with a specialist brush, at Tyntesfield in Bristol

Behind the scenes at Scotney Castle 

Discover what happens behind the scenes to care for the house and garden at Scotney Castle in Kent.

Scotney Castle's Victorian mansion house in early morning autumn mist

The house at Scotney Castle 

From secret doors to ornate furniture and amazing collections of art, costume, books and silverware, find out about the house at Scotney Castle and how the Hussey family made it a home.

Sunrise over Croome, Worcestershire

Gardens and parks 

From 18th-century water gardens and Arts and Crafts landscapes to intimate woodland gardens, there are so many places to discover.

A gardener tending to the borders at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Gardening tips 

Discover our gardeners’ top tips so you can make the most of your garden, plot or window box.

Old castle and moat in winter at Scotney Castle Kent

Gardens in Kent 

There are gardens aplenty to explore in Kent, including Sissinghurst – one of the most famous in the country. From productive walled gardens to beautiful borders, there's something for every taste.