National Trust houses in Kent

Despite most National Trust houses now being shut up for winter, many surrounding gardens and wider estates remain open for visitors to explore...

National Trust Houses in Kent

Despite most National Trust houses now being shut up for winter, many surrounding gardens and wider estates remain open for visitors to explore

 

The arrival of November means that winter is well and truly here. As thoughts turn indoors for entertainment, many people will once more discover the joys of snuggling down with a good book for an afternoon’s quiet reading. However, for those who don’t want to give up on the great outdoors just yet, the National Trust invites them to come and visit some of the iconic landmarks in its care around Kent, and to discover their fascinating historical links to well-known authors and books.

Despite most of the National Trust’s main houses now being shut up for the winter, many surrounding gardens and wider estates remain open to visitors throughout November, along with restaurants and tea rooms offering warming drinks, snacks and lunches. This month, why not embark upon a literary pilgrimage and take a walk to see the views that inspired many local writers?

Ightham Mote Literary lectures to keep the brain ticking over this winter Every year, by popular request, the National Trust runs a series of lecture lunches around the country, comprising fascinating talks given by experts, accompanied by a two-course meal.

Most Read

This month, a number of these lectures in Kent are based on a literary theme. At Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks (see main pic) attendees can learn more about Charles Dickens in a talk about his life and works given on 12 November, followed by dinner.

Then, on 19 November, the historian and author, Kate Williams will discuss her new book, Becoming Queen Victoria. The house and garden are also partly open to visitors throughout November, along with the restaurant. To book and for further details, call 01732 811145.

Chartwell A peaceful country bolthole for a Prime Minister who was also a Nobel Prize-winning author. Arguably Britain’s greatest Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill provided a firm guiding hand to a country at war. Like many important statesmen with a great deal of responsibility, Churchill sought a retreat. His was in the peaceful Kent countryside of Westerham, where he bought Chartwell in 1922.

Churchill wrote copiously here at Chartwell, particularly during much of the 1930s when he was in the political wilderness before the outbreak of the Second World War. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

While the house at Chartwell closes at the end of October for the winter, the restaurant, garden and wider estate remain open all year round for visitors to enjoy the same views that gave Churchill much of his literary inspiration. Sissinghurst Castle Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicholson’s world-famous garden creation When Vita and Harold needed a new Kentish home after Harold retired from the diplomatic service in 1929, they settled not far from Knole at Sissinghurst Castle near Cranbrook.

Here they oversaw the restoration of the house, as well as the redesign of the garden, which they stocked with personally chosen plants reflecting the horticultural trends of the time. The pair opened their garden to the public from 1938.

The National Trust took over Sissinghurst Castle in 1967 and continues to show the public the garden’s many delights, including a working vegetable garden, the famous White Garden and other highlights.

The main garden closes for the winter on 30 October, but the wider estate is accessible for walks all year round, giving beautiful views. The restaurant also remains open during November and December, along with the gift shop, which stocks a huge range of goodies, including Vita and Harold’s books and other related memorabilia.

Knole Birthplace of Vita Sackville West. This 15th-century mansion set in 1,000 acres of parkland was the childhood home of English novelist and poet Vita Sackville-West, born there in 1892. Vita married fellow writer Harold Nicolson in 1913, with whom she set up home at nearby Sissinghurst Castle.

But Vita never forgot Knole, writing that her first ever home “has the tone of England; it melts into the green of the garden turf, into the tawnier green of the park beyond, into the blue of the pale English sky.” Her literary lover Virginia Woolf retold the history of Knole and the Sackvilles in her novel Orlando.

The main house at Knole closes after 30 October, but visitors can still enjoy the shop, tearoom, visitor centre, Orangery and 1,000-acre deer park into the winter months. A special after-dark tour of the state rooms also takes place on 2 and 3 November. Tickets cost �25 and must be booked in advance on 01732 462100. For more National Trust and other events happening in Kent this winter, visit: kent.greatbritishlife.co.uk.

Comments powered by Disqus