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The history of Scotney Castle

An overgrown window in the old castle ruin at Scotney Castle, Kent
An overgrown window in the old castle ruin at Scotney Castle | © National Trust Images/Gary Cosham

Discover the long and rich history of Scotney Castle, dating from the 12th century. The Hussey family lived here from 1778 and, in the 1830s, were responsible for transforming the estate into the perfect country house. Three generations of the Hussey family called Scotney Castle home before it opened to visitors in 2007.

In the beginning

The earliest record of occupancy on the land dates from 1137, and the oldest parts of the Old Castle were built in 1378 by Roger de Ashburnham.

Edward Hussey I purchased the Scotney estate in 1778. The Hussey family originally came from Worcestershire and moved to this area in the early 18th century. They made their money from the iron industry and continued their interest in this by working with local Sussex forges.

A picturesque vision

In the 1830s Edward's grandson, Edward Hussey III, transformed the estate. He hired architect Anthony Salvin to build a new house at the top of the hill overlooking the valley. Edward Hussey III had the imagination to transform the Old Castle into a ruin to act as the focus of his new landscape garden.

As a result of his vision, Scotney Castle is now celebrated as one of the most significant survivals of a complete Picturesque landscape. Edward and his wife Henrietta had six children who all enjoyed growing up in this idyllic setting.

The old castle in the sunshine at Scotney Castle, Kent
The old castle in the sunshine at Scotney Castle | © National Trust Images/Kirsty Gibbons

A home for evacuees

Edward Windsor Hussey (known as Edwy) took over the running of the estate when his father died in 1894. He lived here with his wife Rosamond during both World Wars, hosting evacuees from the Kings’ School in Rochester in 1939.

Securing the future

Edwy’s nephew, Christopher Hussey, took ownership of the house in 1952. He was very aware of the decline of the country house in England after the Second World War and acted to secure the future of the estate by creating six flats in the house to improve its longevity as a home and provide income.

Christopher bequeathed Scotney Castle and its collection to the National Trust in 1970. The house remained the home of his widow, Betty Hussey, until June 2007 when it was first opened to visitors.

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.

A bench amid late summer flowers in a walled garden

The garden and estate at Scotney Castle 

Explore the picturesque garden and wider estate at Scotney Castle, from walled garden to woodland and year-round colour.

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.

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 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.

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.

Sunlight illuminating a heraldic stained glass window at Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire


Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.