Thursday, 3 July 2014

A day at Sissinghurst followed by a day at Chartwell

This short entry records two days away courtesy of James and Claire who purchased us a night in a B&B anywhere of our choosing. We chose to go to Kent partly because the B&B was available but also because it was close to two places we had not been before. Although purchased many months in advance with no idea of what the weather would liken the day, the weather (always somewhat uncertain in the UK) turned out to be better than good, in fact we enjoyed the two hottest days of the year so far.

Sissinghurst Castle

Sissinghurst is a National Trust property in Kent and although called a Castle, it is not really a castle at all (unlike nearby Leeds Castle).










It dates back to around the 13th Century and used to be a moated house but for reasons which you can read about on the National Trust website here or at this link, only one side of of the original building is standing and moats still exist on two sides.

Sissinghurst House









Everything about the house says age and well maintained decrepitude. 

Sissinghurst House 001









The climber on this side of the house is said to have been grown from a flower in the wedding bouquet of Vita Sackville-West and was planted in 1913.

The doorway on the right leads into what used to be their living room (originally it was a stables)

Sissinghurst House 002









 and it is both beautiful and atmospheric.

Sissinghurst Tower











You can climb up the tower and as you do so you pass a room which was used as a study by Vita SW and also another room which must have housed some French prisoners because they carved images of ships into the walls of their room

Sissinghurst Grafitti











The graffiti patch above is about 5 feet tall and contains at least three ships

Sissinghurst Grafitti 001











such as this Galleon.

The view from the top of the tower is superb

Sissinghurst Tower View 001










Sissinghurst Tower View 002










Sissinghurst Tower View










Sissinghurst Tower View 003











The beneficial effect of six full-time and two part-time gardeners plus an army of volunteers is obvious whichever way you look. 

Sissinghurst Flower









The flowers of course are beautiful

Sissinghurst Flowers









and there were numerous ideas for us to take home

Sissinghurst Garden 002









although I expect we will never achieve this effect!

Sissinghurst Garden









but this one could be a possibility. the garden has its own blog which you can find here.

Being in Kent, there are of course a number of Oast Houses in the grounds.

Sissinghurst Oast House

It also provided a view similar (but not as good as) Pine Tree Arch in The Arches National Park Utah which you can see here.

Sissinghurst View

We make a general rule of going to any free talks offered when we are at a property. Here we learnt about propagation techniques from one of the gardeners and also about the history and role of the Land Girls in WW1 and WW2.

It really is a most beautiful place, perhaps helped by the fact that every flower was out and the weather was gloriously hot and the sky was unspoilt blue.


Chartwell was purchased by Winston Churchill in 1922 and features throughout his life as a place of rest and a place to entertain the people of the day. Again this is a National Trust property and is well maintained (and very popular with visitors).

We were not allowed to take photographs inside the house and therefore the memories we are allowed to record relate to the grounds only. 

Chartwell Swimming Pool









After entering, the open air swimming pool is one of the first features you come across inside the grounds

Churchill and Pond











and a picture of Churchill looking at the same pond and a little uncharged landscape is on the very interesting National Trust blog of Chartwell where you can find here.

Chartwell Pond with Churchill s Chair









There are a number of ponds / lakes in the grounds and this one has been left just as Churchill would have known it. His chair is on the right of the photograph together with the bait box he used to feed the fish.

Chartwell Fish









Hence we were told that the fish we could see in the pond are the descendants of the original fish he fed.

Chartwell View









From the terrace you get the famous view over the countryside and hills. The grounds are kept very well although

Chartwell Garden









it is not a scenic artistic garden like Sissinghurst.

Old Man









but there is a nice walled garden where an old man can sit down and have his picture taken.

Chartwell 001









This is the rear of the house

Two travellers









adjacent to which is a wall where any passing couple can sit down to have their picture taken.











The front is almost as elegant as the rear and although the gated in and out drive is not in use anymore, it is not hard to imagine how the house looked when Churchill lived there.

You are not allowed to take pictures inside the house but I managed to take the guide card outside and get a picture of both sides

Ground Floor

FIrst Floor




















Inside it is full of lots of memorabilia and quite well informed volunteers who whilst they might differ in the detail they give, are able to tell you a lot more about the various items on display than you can pick up for the guide book.

We also went around the studio where Churchill did a lot of his paintings - it is full of his work. One photograph I did managed to snatch tells a lot about his character.

Most Grateful Letter












This memorandum says “The Prime Minister wishes it to be recorded that the expression “most grateful” is not to appear in any letter for his signature. He says that he is the only person who can decide whether he is most grateful or not.

It is an interesting and obviously popular place to visit.


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