Visiting three National Trust properties in one day is not necessarily something to aspire to, but if you have the legs for it, start early enough, and have membership, then why not. At the end of it you are able to say “my favourite was x”, or “x had the best border”, “y the grandest house” etc. If you leave this evaluation until the following day, you will not remember which house went with which garden – but then that’s where photography comes in. All three were chosen because of their reputation and close proximity to one another. The map below shows their relative locations in Kent of the house & gardens. It’s a 15 minute drive from one to the next to the next.
The house is not open to the public, so it’s all about the exterior and garden here, which dates back to the 19th Century. The garden was apparently influenced by William Robinson, a gardener who did much to sway garden trends of the time, advocating more wild, natural looking plantings that led to the English cottage garden style. Slightly, but in no way disappointingly, at odds with this is the current garden, which displays ‘exotic and rare trees and shrubs from across the world‘. It’s very lovely, encircled by wooded grounds and with a position high up you are able to look down across beautiful Kentish countryside. Not a bad start to any day.
The childhood home of Vita-Sackville West is rather grand, but unless you visit on a Tuesday, the only time the formal garden is open, then it’s all about the house and grounds. This does not mean you will be plant-free, quite the contrary, as an endless array of floral motif and patterning can be found within its walls. You just need to look closely at the sculpted bannisters, the stained glass windows, tapestries, drapes and other soft furnishings. The house tour ends with the spectacular King’s Room, a golden, eye-popping fairy tale of a room – viewed from behind glass to maintain its necessary dust-free status. Outside, the entrance is marked by a beautiful old oak tree, and on this occasion a few disinterested deer. The courtyards are neat with stone sculptures and simple topiary asides, adding to the overall appeal. It’s big, it’s packed full and it’s very handsome. Two down, one to go!
A 14th-century medieval manor house with a moat. Is it ever possible to not be excited by a moat? With grounds that include a vegetable garden, a long herbaceous border, water features and extended estate with woodland, there’s lots to do and see. However, by this point of the day, resting on the lawn and enjoying the rather lovely, sunken setting was high up on the agenda.