Finally we have some nice weather and what better way to spend a day than strolling around a beautiful garden, and they don’t come much better than the garden at Penshurst Place near Tonbridge in Kent. (www.penshurstplace.com).
There has been a grand house on the site since 1341 when the merchant and Lord mayor of London, Sir John de Pulteney built the original house as his country home. Through the centuries the house has been extended and modified by it’s various owners, although it has been in the ownership of the Sidney family since the mid 1500’s when it was gifted to Sir William Sidney by King Edward VI. Inside the house there is a most impressive Great Hall which has remained largely unaltered since it’s medieval origins, while the rooms open to the public are similarly true to their original design. Sadly no internal photography is allowed, but I would strongly recommend a visit to see for yourself.
The gardens are fabulous! Dating back to 1346 they are among the oldest and most beautiful in England. There are 48 acres of garden with a delightful 11 acre walled garden to explore, originally laid out in 1580, it has stayed true to it’s original design and has thankfully managed to escape being “Capability Browned”!
The Heraldic Garden
Topiary Family Crests flank the Flag garden viewing platform
Large ornamental pond with lilies and fountain, steps leading into pond
Two tree-lined avenues at Penshurst
One of the fascinating things at Penshurst is the unusual porcupine sculpture which was inspired by the Sidney coat of arms. This rather striking sculpture was commissioned to mark the millennium and was created by Robert Rattray.
The Penshurst Porcupine
Somewhat bizarrely the porcupine has been recreated in Yew topiary which was sadly looking a bit bedraggled, particularly when seen next to the rather striking dancing bear topiary!
Porcupine and Bear Topiary at Penshurst
Between these two very large tree sculptures is a water feature with a fantastic steel Archer sculpted by Robert Rattray and which is actually a sun dial! I particularly liked this piece as it reminded me of a continuous line drawing but in steel rods – incredible!
Robert Rattray Archer sundial
‘Hidden’ doorway in wall of walled garden; the Gardeners Cottage
Of course no visit to a garden would be complete without tea and cake and the offering at Penshurst was second to none! We were even joined by this chirpy little fellow!
Chirpy Chaffinch at Penshurst Place