Our first visit of the 2018 season was on Wednesday 23 May, to Chiddingstone Castle and Emmetts Garden in Kent.
Chiddingstone Castle originates from the 1550s when High St House, as the castle was known, was home to the Streatfield family. Several transformations have since taken place, including rerouting the High St to avoid the house. In 1805 Henry Streatfield extended and remodelled his ancestral home in the “castle style” which was then fasionable. The Castle was sold in 1938 and served as a base for Canadian military forces during the Second World War. After the war it became home to Long Dene School until 1954 when the school was closed. In 1955 the antiquary Denys Eyre Bower rescued the house from creeping dereliction and used it to house his eclectic collection of over 8000 objects. On his death in 1977 he left his collection for the enjoyment of the nation. The house is now run as a charitable trust.
The Castle stands next to Chiddingstone Village, which is owned by the National Trust and has houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries
Emmetts is a National Trust garden housing exotic plants from around the world. It is known for its beautiful bluebells and spring colour, summer roses and vibrant autumn foliage.