Sissinghurst Castle Garden was created by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson as a series of separate gardens within the larger garden around surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion.
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The 5.5 acres of gardens, part of a 462 acre estate, are built around themes that include a sunken garden, a white garden, a rose garden with old-fashioned species, and an herb garden.
A lime walk planted with spring bulbs, a moat walk, a cottage garden, and a nuttery are added attractions. Magnolia, clematis, and honeysuckle enhance the brickwork of the buildings. There is a yew walk and an orchard. Two cottages are in the grounds.
Sissinghurst was a medieval manor farm. The original manor house was demolished to create the brick castle in the mid 16th century for Sir Richard Baker. It fell into decay 150 years later and was partly demolished. Queen Elizabeth I spent three nights here in 1573.
During the Seven Year War (1756) the building served as a prison. Most of it was demolished by 1800. In 1930 Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson took on the property. The remaining four storey tower has two octagonal turrets. Vita Sackville-West’s study is open for viewing as is the library.
After Vita Sackville-West’s death in 1962 the gardens were taken on by the National Trust. During the opening months garden tours, bat watches, and other events are held.
Two lakes are the focus of a .5 mile walk. A woodland walk of 1 mile is located in Roundshill wood, part of the ancient Wealden Forest where modern chestnut coppicing takes place. In the spring there are bluebells and wild flowers.
There is an exhibition in the oast house on the historical, agricultural, and horticultural story of the estate and garden. A restaurant is located in the former granary. It serves vegetables from the on-site garden. Also on-site are an Elizabethan barn, farm shop, plant sales, and National Trust shop.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Two miles north-east of Cranbrook, Kent on the A262
Tel. 0 1580 710 701
Open: by timed ticket only; garden, mid March-end Oct, Fri-Tue, 11am-6.30pm; library and study of house, mid March-end Oct, Fri-Tue, 11am-5pm; vegetable garden, May-Sep, noon-4pm; shop, restaurant, plant sales open various times, check NT website for full details
Parking on site; coffee shop near car park