What's On - May

Get out and about this month


NSPCC plant sale8 MayTickets: �5Saltwood Castle, nr HytheFor the third year running, the NSPCC is staging a plant sale in the grounds of Saltwood Castle. Not only will there be 18 nurseries attending offering plenty of unusual and interesting plants, but you also get the chance to have a wander around the grounds of this beautiful property. Refreshments include home-made cakes and a barbecue.

Garden & Plant Fair4 MayTickets: �30 (entrance, lunch and speaker), �5 on the gateBuston Manor, MaidstoneThe Gardening for Disabled Trust, a nationwide charity that helps disabled people to continue gardening, despite illness, age or disability, is running a garden and plant fair in the grounds of Buston Manor. As well as stalls selling plants, pots, baskets and gardening gear, plantsman Tom Hart-Dyke of Lullingstone’s World Garden fame will make an appearance as a speaker. You can buy a ticket that includes a sit-down lunch, entry to the fair and the opportunity to hear Tom speak about a subject he is passionate about. There will also be a raffle.

Meet the Curator3 May, 11.30am to 12.30pmTickets: �5 to �20Quex Park Museum, BirchingtonWant to know what goes on behind the scenes in the Quex Musuem? Here’s your chance to find out. The curator, Malcolm Harman has plenty of stories to tell, and a few weapons to show you as well.

A Murder in the Mast House14 to 15 MayTickets: �30Tel: 01634 823814The Mast House and Mould Loft, Historic Docks, ChathamHave a spooky, spine-tingling experience as you take part in this ghost investigation. Hear the tale of the Murder in the Mast House, rumoured to be one of the most haunted buildings on the dock site, and keep an eye out for any ghostly going-ons.

Demelza May Ball15 MayTickets: �100Tel: 01795 845204Eastwell Manor, near AshfordThe annual Demelza Ball is being held in the wonderful surroundings of Eastwell Manor, with special guest Christopher Biggins. He will be the silent auctioneer where lots include signed sports shirts, a flatscreen TV, artwork and a dolls’ house. There will also be a raffle on the night. All proceeds raised will go towards the work of Demelza. Not only is the evening for a good cause, but also promises a whole heap of glitz, glamour and showbiz. 

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Sissinghurst at night24, 25 and 28 MayTickets: Normal admission appliesSissinghurst Castle, near CranbookTel: 01580 710700.A rare treat for all lovers of the National Trust’s jewel, Sissinghurst - this year it has decided to open its doors to the public on three May evenings until 9.30pm. These special openings give you a wonderful opportunity to visit the world-famous garden and admire the stunning White and Rose Gardens in a completely different light. Why not make it a special occasion and have supper in the Granary Restaurant and enjoy a menu created with food grown on Sissinghurst’s own farm?

Henry VIII and his courtiers 29 to 31 MayTickets: Contact venueTel: 01732 865224Hever Castle, nr EdenbridgeKing Henry and his courtiers descend on Hever Castle this month for a Tudor Masque with a Robin Hood theme. Visitors can get to grips with Tudor life among a crowd of authentically dressed characters, as well as enjoy music and dancing as the court readies itself for the festivities. There will be a variety of craftsmen on hand to tempt you with their Tudor wares, while you can also learn about the ancient art of fletching (arrow-making), as well as how to fire a bow and arrow.



Decorative Living Fair29 April~Tickets: �5 in advance/�7.50 on the doorTel: 07929 826052Eridge Park, Tunbridge WellsWith more than 40 exhibitors, there is an emphasis on decorative antiques and vintage items at this fair. In addition, there will be two new plant specialists – Phoenix Perennial Plants and Herbal Haven, plus new exhibitor, Asters, who is bringing vintage quilts and eiderdowns

Weald of Kent Craft Show1 to 3 MayTickets: �3 to �6Tel: 01425 277988Penshurst Place, nr TonbridgeMore than 250 craftsmen will exhibit and demonstrate their work, including textiles, stoneware, jewellery, fashion, leathercraft, ceramics, wooden collectibles and glassware. There will also be entertainment laid on, including the band Miccoli, playing in aid of the British Heart Foundation. You can also try your hand at some of the crafts, with regular workshops over the three-day show.


Beastly Battles 3 MayTickets: �4 to �7Tel: 01892 870 347Chiddingstone Castle, EdenbridgeStep back in time to one of England’s most turbulent periods in history, the Civil War. Learn all about the fighting methods at the time, and the weapons used and why not try your hand at mini jousting and pike drills? Open to all ages.

Step back into the 1940s15 May and 16 MayTickets: �7.80 to �34.00Tel: 01580 765155Kent & East Sussex Railway, TenterdenStep back to the 1940s with the Kent & East Sussex Railway at its railway stations in Tenterden and Sussex. Visitors can relive the lifestyle with period vehicles, music and dancing. The highlight, though, has to be special performances by soprano Fiona Harrison, the UK’s finest professional 40s singer. The show features all your favourite tunes from the era, including We’ll Meet Again. And that’s not all – the Cinque Port Lindy Hoppers will get you into the swing of things.

Classic Car ShowMay 2Tickets: FreeFremlin Walk, MaidstoneChildren’s TV favourite Roary the Racing Car will be guest of honour at Fremlin Walk as the shopping centre takes part in Maidstone’s annual Classic Car Show.Look out too for rare cars from the 1920s, 1950s and 1960s on show, plus a variety of kit cars and some vintage motorcycles.


Winslow Boy4 to 9 MayTickets: �7.50 (matinees), �12.50, �17.50 for two on opening nightTel: 01892 678678Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge WellsSet just before the First World War, 13-year-old naval cadet Ronnie Winslow is expelled for stealing a five-schilling postal order but, convinced of his innocence, the boy’s father hires the best advocate in the land to clear his lad’s name. The case reaches both Parliament and the High Court, but there is a very high price to be paid by the family as events unfold.


Have-a-Go at archery31 MayTickets: �1.50 to �2.00Quex Park, BirchingtonThink you could do better than Robin Hood? More of a sureshot than William Tell? Well, drop in to Quex Park and test your skills with a bow and arrow. With the aid of Thanet Archery Club, which will be on hand to offer pointers and advice, this promises to be a fun-filled family event.


The Green Man1 MayTickets:  Contact venueTel: 01580 879842Bedgebury Pinetum, GoudhurstWalk through the pinetum and witness some of the wonderful, unusual and awe-inspiring trees in the bark, if you will. As you progress through the forest, you can collect foliage to decorate your own Green Man mask. Follow in an age-old tradition and come dressed in green to welcome the summer: the best-dressed boy and girl will win a prize.

Operation Dynamo: Dunkirk Anniversary Weekend29 May to 31 MayTickets: �8 to �39.80Tel: 0870 3331183Dover Castle, DoverTo mark the 70th anniversary of the evacuation for troops, Dover Castle hosts a weekend packed full of activities to mark the miracle escape of many of the allied armed forces from the beaches of France. Tour the tunnels, take part in wartime activities, experience history coming to life and get a real understanding of where Operation Dynamo was masterminded. See also page 56.

Marle Place GardensUntil 3 OctTickets: �1.50 to �5.00Tel: 01892 2722304Marle Place, TonbridgeSmell the flowers, explore the kitchen garden and study the mosaic terrace and Edwardian rockery at beautiful Marle Place. Wander through the wild-flower carpeted woodland areas and then pay a visit to the gallery, where there will be a series of special exhibitions throughout the season.

Bluebell Walk 2 MayTickets: �3 to �20Tel: 01622 790195Harrietsham Village Hall, HarrietshamStarted more than 24 years ago by Bill Butler, this year’s walk sets off from Harrietsham Village Hall and wends its way through the privately owned Bluebell Woods that have been specially opened by the Torry Hill Estate. Bill sadly passed away last year, but his memory lives on through the walk, which has as many as 1,000 participants. The event is a sponsored one, and monies raised go to help The Hospice in its work.


Tales of Bohemia 14 to 16 MayTickets: Contact box officeTel: 01303 842184St Mary and St Eanswythe’s Church, FolkestoneThe Sacconi Quartet, in association with The Creative Foundation, presents the third annual Chamber Music Festival. One of Britain’s most energetic and outstanding string quartets, the group present works from Czech composers Janacek, Semtana, Suk and Dvorak, among others. The quartet will also be taking part in an outreach programme designed to bring classical music to those who it might not traditionally reach.

The Baroque Singers8 MayTickets: �5 to �10St Peter’s Church, SouthboroughIn memory of Richard Gosling, Tunbridge Wells’ premier chamber choir is staging a concert in Southborough, The Baroque Singers will perform Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, joined by their associate orchestra, The Baroque Players.

The Counterfeit Stones26 AprilTickets: �19Tel: 01322 220000The Orchard, DartfordJumpin’ Jack Flash! It’s the Counterfeit Stones coming to Kent, thanks to their Get Off My Chord Tour. Expect all the classic Stones hits and the moves from singer Nick Dagger, Keef Rickard, Bill Hymen, the Unholy Trinity of Bryon Jones/MickTailor-Made/Ronnie B Good and Charlie Mott. A night of pure rock’n’roll majesty from a group that even Sir Mick of Jagger has referred to as ‘the most famous Stones (tribute) band’.

7th Tunbridge Wells International Music FestivalUntil 29 MayThere is plenty to see and do while the festival is on, including musical masterclasses, concerts, lunches, listening to guest speakers and classical recitals, among so many other delights. Below are a few of the highlights:

Literary lunch7 MayTickets: �40Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge WellsSandy Gall speaking about his life as an author, ITN broadcaster and charity founder.

Clarinet masterclass14 MayTickets: FreeTrinity TheatreMaster clarinettist Michael Collins (pictured) imparts some of his skills, talent and advice to budding musicians and fans of music in general.

Concert16 MayTickets: �20Tel: 01892 678678Trinity TheatreTop clarinettist Michael Collins conducts the City of London Sinfonia, who will play Mozart’s Symphony 29, Copland and Finzi Clarinet Concertos and Barber Adagio for Strings.


Florence Nightingale Museum12 MayTickets: �4.80 to �16.00Tel: 020 7620 0374Florence Nightingale MuseumFollowing an extensive refit, the Florence Nightingale Museum reopens its doors in May. Located in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital, on the site of Nightingale’s first training school, the museum offers a journey through the remarkable lady’s life, including her Victorian childhood, her role in the Crimean War, and her later life as a fervent campaigner for health reform. The museum also celebrates the history, development and evolution of the nursing profession.

Chelsea Flower Show25 to 29 MayTickets: �16 to �45Tel: 0844 209 0357Royal Hospital GardensFamous around the world, the Chelsea Flower Show returns to the 11-acre site in the grounds of the Royal Hospital. Marvel at the unique gardens on display and study the blooms on show in the side stalls and tents. And, if the floral promise fails to meet your expectations, you can always do a bit of celeb spotting. After all, everyone from the Queen downwards holds Chelsea in the utmost of esteem.

The Real ThingUntil 5 JuneTickets: �10 to �47Tel: 0844 871 7628The Old VicFormer James Bond baddie Toby Stephens takes on the role of Henry, aged 40, who has left his wife for another woman and is not quite sure if it’s the right thing to do or, is, in fact, the real thing. Cue soul-searching and much thought behind the themes of infidelity and love. Often thought to be autobiographical, this production, by Tom Stoppard is believed to mirror the events in his own life when he left his wife, Miriam for Felicity Kendal, who appeared in the first production of the play.