Lullingstone Castle, an historic family mansion with a gatehouse, was built in 1497. It is set in 120 acres of grounds complete with a lake. Famous visitors included Henry VIII and Queen Anne. Her bathhouse and an 18th century ice house are in the grounds with the river Dasrent flowing by. St Botolph's parish church, near the house, dates from Norman times and contains windows with some of England’s oldest stained glass.
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The park has an internationally known collection of ancient trees that include oak, beech, ash, hornbeam and sweet chestnut, some of which are thought to be 800 years old. In the spring and summer orchids and wild flowers bloom on chalk grassland.
A Cloud Garden was built in the winter of 2009. It is housed in a structure of special polypropylene plastic with heat insulation and light diffusion properties. Tom Hart Dyke’s two acre walled World Garden, with its plants from around the world, was the winner of the British Guild of Travel Writers UK Tourism Award 2005. Tom has followed in the footsteps of Victorians and Edwardians who travelled the world to find plants and flowers. Some of the rare and exotic plants found here are the Dinosaur tree (Wollemi Pine), the oldest tree in the world; the Eucalyptus Silver Princess; and Penstemon ‘Crac’s Delight’. The ongoing plantings will eventually have 10,000 different species from all over the world.
A 6.5 mile circular walk leads from the visitor centre through the village of Shoreham.
Lullingstone Castle Gardens
Tel. 0 1322 862 114
Open: World Garden: April-end Oct, Fri, Sat, Sun, Bank Holiday Mon: noon - 5pm; for selected special events open at 11am Last entry to the Garden is at 4:30pm. House: 2pm for 45 min guided tour, Fri, Sat, Sun; also BH weekends from 11am for free flow
Web: Lullingstone Castle and Gardens
Historic Houses Association member; visitor centre; cafe; shop; parking
All photos courtesy Geograph UK as follows:
Lulllingstone Castle and Cloud Garden by Paul Farmer; Gatehouse by Richard Croft; World Garden South America and World Garden entrance by Oast House Archive.