Nestled away Near Cranbrook in Kent is Sissinghurst Castle, a wonderful home born out of a passion of a couple (Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West) in the 1930’s.
I was lucky to have visited at a time where the gardens were in full bloom.
The idea of ‘getting in for a shilling/penny’ is still operational by the National Trust, you are given a plastic shilling/penny in order to gain entry to the main building.
The feel is similar to that of Castle Drogo however not as huge, but in a sense that someone had a great passion to make their home exactly how they wanted. I can relate to that, after all its is said that our home is our castle.
The Site is wonderfully peaceful and a delight to sit in the wild garden by the stream. The building and maintaining of the Castle wasn’t with out its struggle, not only between the land, but also between Vita and Harold. There is a great exhibition about their lives, loves, strains, and passion throughout their lives which I would encourage anyone to go and see. I love the passion of individuals striving for their own little haven in their creative world.
An Excerpt from Vitas diary:
When people like you and me marry, life resolves itself into a compromise, which is truly satisfactory to neither. Bit I love you, I can never ever cure myself of you, so what is to be done?
Red House is in a pretty residential road in Bexleyheath next to the vast Danson Park, not as a spectacular setting as Castle Drogo , but no less impressive. Originally owned by creative William Morris, Red House is a nice little haven in the middle of the other residential homes.
The guides were very welcoming in the ticket office, which was originally a stable block, the original blocks had been kept, even the hay feeders. At the time i visited there was a ‘bread crumb’ trail around the site, with little post labels tied to various things such as trees, each with an individual poem or inspirational quote.
Exploring the Garden was a real treat, being in a residential road, you would think that the garden would be fairly small, however it was about the same size as the house either side, just enough to think you were in the middle of nowhere. As well as kept lawns and flower beds, Red House has a vegetable and flower patch at the rear of the house, well protected by the resident Scarecrow, pumpkins grown far better than my ‘un-green’ fingers! The little potting shed reminded me of my Grandads Shed, the familiar smell of potting compost and general musk of the shed, the little spiders making their homes in the corners.
I fell in love with the house as well as the Garden, definitely a place I could live in. The wooden floors, the stained glass windows above the grand front door. A fabulous little find was in one of the bedrooms, apparently occupied by Lizzie Siddal and the Pre-Raphelites at one time, the National Trust had found a painting of Lizzie Siddal in the walls behind a built in cupboard. Following my visit there, more paintings were discovered behind the wall paper, the uncovering these gems still goes on.
If you visit Red House I would also recommend a trip around Danson park which is close to the house, with vast greens, trees and friendly squirrels.
Last year before starting on my Photography business I wanted to ensure I had something to do in my ‘down time’ that was relatively inexpensive, you always get told that the first year of your own business can be ‘interesting’ financially, so I wanted to make sure I could get out and do something. I was always interested in my partners stories of going to various castles with his parents when he was little, and our trip to Castle Drogo in March 2012 re-ignited a passion for old buildings, so thought having a years membership to the National Trust would be just the ticket.
This ‘last castle in England’ is nestled in the hills in north Dartmoor National Park, a fabulous story surrounds this family home, with an eccentric millionaire wanting his own Norman castle built using traditional methods. His architect kept insisting that he could make the castle ‘look’ like a traditional castle but with having modern materials and a peaked roof. Sadly the millionaire was insistent that he wanted a Norman Castle with a flat roof, and the National Trust have been trying to raise funds ever since to repair the roof, which has constantly leaked ever since it was built!
I fell in love with the place nestled in Dartmoor National Park, such lush trees, and amazing views (even in the pouring rain). I loved the guides in each room, although I do like to have a read of material before I visit a place, having an actual person to tell you these stories and to ask them questions about the place is wonderful. I went into the dining room, where an older chap was waiting with a smile on his face, he was welcoming and began to tell us about the room (he was an amazing storyteller). Apparently, the owner insisted that the dining table had electric table lights on it, this could be a bit of a problem when someone spilled a drink as the tablecloth would sometimes lightly shock the diners!!!!