Lullingstone Castle and World Garden

Lullingstone Castle isn’t a castle. It’s a big house, a great big manor house – it was named a castle way back when it was an impressive thing to do so. It’s a fun place to visit and there’s plenty to do.

Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Castle is situated in Lullingstone, close to Orpington, Kent. It is a big manor house where you can join guided tours which last approximately an hour. The tour was interesting, though involved a lot of talking.

I would suggest if you have an impatient child younger than 7-8, skip the house tour and go straight to the World Garden – but make sure to pick up the trail questions from the house before you do.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden

The World Garden is pretty amazing. Tom Hart-Dyke who is the son of the current owners of Lullington Castle is an explorer, a plant hunter. He has an interesting story, and has featured on tv programmes about the garden.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden sign

The World Garden is split into continents, each has plants and flowers from all over the world. There is information in each area from simple stories about the plant hunters who inspired or helped build the garden.

Actually, there’s no point in me describing it – here’s some of my photos that we took. It’s worth going to visit, is open every weekend and we can get in free with Historic Houses Association membership.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 1 Lullingstone Castle World Garden view with wire tree Lullingstone Castle World Garden Australia area Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 2 Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 3 Lullingstone Castle World Garden America area Lullingstone Castle World Garden totem pole Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 4 Lullingstone Castle World Garden flower 5 Lullingstone Castle World Garden cacti Lullingstone Castle World Garden cacti 2 Lullingstone Castle World Garden spot the penguin

Add to that a couple of greenhouse areas which include the most poisonous plant in the world, and you’ve a fascinating afternoon wandering around. Once you’re outside the World Garden, there are grounds too, including a carp lake.

Over that is a bridge – perfect for Pooh Sticks.

Lullingstone Castle World Garden pooh sticks

We were there for almost four hours, popping into nearby Lullingstone Roman Villa up the road, some fascinating ruins which are part of English Heritage. That’s one for a follow-up post I think!

Lullingstone Castle’s website can be found here. It’s fascinating visiting other people’s houses and having a nosey around a small area – especially when they’re still living there. Definitely worth a visit!

Loseley Park – Our First Visit

We have Historic Houses Association membership which opens up a new world of places to visit. This weekend it was Loseley Park near Guildford.
Loseley Park

Loseley Park has a lot of history. Once visited by many Kings and Queens (including Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn off the top of my head), it is a property owned by the More-Molyneux family.

Loseley Park flowers

The house itself is fascinating. Built in the 1500s it’s a very sturdy building with the majority surviving. Only the West Wing is no longer there. The More-Molyneux family live in one half with the other half open as part of a guided tour. The property has fields around it, as well as the Botanical Gardens to the right of the house.

Loseley Park wisteria

Loseley Park has enough to keep you busy for an afternoon. We started with our customary game of hide and seek (which H loves in new gardens). A glorious, sunny day, we hid and laughed, breathing in the fragrant wisteria which grows over the walls as you enter the gardens.

Loseley Park sculptures

We stopped for a quick sandwich at the Wisteria Tea Rooms. It was a quick service and yummy food. A little bit more expensive than National Trust places but filling nonetheless.

Loseley Park moat

H had space to run around and made the most of it. There’s a moat with a small tunnel from the gardens to reach it. We wandered around there hoping for a sighting of a kingfisher – but it wasn’t to be.

Loseley Park foot sculpture

The tour of Loseley Park takes 45 minutes. H had a clipboard with questions on to answer. Our guide told us about all the rooms, the family and where a lot of the things on show there originate. When H returned her clipboard she won a Loseley Park pencil which I was happy about. It’s nice they win sweets at these kind of things, getting something practical is so much better.

Loseley Park gardens

After that we grabbed a Loseley Park ice cream. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the site any more these days, but was still delicious. We wandered around the lake which isn’t too big and definitely walkable, before heading to the play area. The play area is pretty basic but it was enough for H and she had a fun play for 45 minutes or so.

Loseley Park lake

Loseley Park is somewhere we’ll definitely go back to, especially with the change of the seasons. For more information they’re over here.
Loseley Park is also now part of the Gardener’s World 2 for 1 deal if you bought a copy of the magazine this month.

Loseley Park field of dandelion clocks

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

We visited Riverhill Himalayan Gardens for the first time, not sure what to expect. It recently opened for the season and looked like there was plenty to do.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is near Sevenoaks. If you were to look on a map, it’s close to Knole, the National Trust place. They’re no more than ten minutes apart. To be honest, I thought we’d get through Riverhill in an hour or so and end up going there. How wrong was I?

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens has LOADS to do. It was a glorious, sunny day. When you have sunshine, gardens to wander around and some quirky sculptures around it, it makes for an interesting afternoon.

As Historic Houses Association members our entry was free.

We headed towards the Explorers Escarpment and Adventure Playground where there were climbing frames and slides suitable for young children but also ideal for H. It was the kind of area we could leave her unsupervised (as in, sitting at the back of the playground while she explores) and know she was safe as there was only one entrance in there.

Afterwards we headed up the hill towards the Himalayan Hedge Maze. We’re a maze-loving family, and this one was different – and not as easy as it looks. It seems to be new so wasn’t that high, which meant we could all try different routes and still see each other. H may have cheated….

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

We headed back down the hill towards the main gardens where there is a water feature plus fountains (which weren’t working) – it was a lovely place to sit and have a moment of calm.

A quick visit to the cafe for sandwiches and in H’s case a Yeti Food Pack and we headed back out to the Woodland Trail. There was a reason for this.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens - yeti

From 2pm-4pm there’s a yeti in the woods! It’s someone dressed up but seeing how the kids flock around him it works a treat. At first we headed up a hill where H found a den built into the ground. She has a love of picking up sticks (which we then leave behind) and managed plenty today.

The yeti was pretty easy to find. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens also publicise it well so you know when it’s happening – and it’s well signposted. He keeps silent, so H went finding sticks to build a den, handing them over. We stood back and watched.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

After that we had a walk around the Woodland Trail to a bigger field with views all over Kent. There was a giant pebble which H sat on, with two windsocks that were gigantic pairs of hands dancing in the breeze like Kate Bush doing Wuthering Heights.

A walk down the hill and we were back to the maze. H and Shaun had another go while I sat directing from the hill!

Another play in the play area, and we decided to head home. We had spent four and a half hours there!

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is great fun, there are buggy accessible routes and plenty to hunt around for. It feels like the kind of place we would go back to several times. Their website is here. We also did some Mothers Day crafts which I’ve stolen the idea for Brownies for next year – we had a brilliant time!

Painshill Park – We Returned and Found Our Happy Place Again

Painshill Park is somewhere we’ve visited¬†since H was a baby. It’s in Cobham, up the road from Claremont Landscape Gardens. We haven’t been for a couple of years, so put this to rights recently.

Painshill Park view from Turkish Tent

Painshill Park and Claremont are both landscape gardens, and have similarities. Painshill Park has some unique features which make it a place we love going back to – though it has been some time.

Painshill Park looking towards the five arch bridge

Imagine some gardens which have random things built in them because that was the done thing when you’re a wealthy person. So you build a ruin because you can. Or you build a Turkish Tent because it looks great on top of a hill. Then there’s the Gothic Tower, which has fabulous views. Lest we forget the wonderful Crystal Grotto which is now restored and looks amazing.

Painshill Park Crystal Grotto

We used to go on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day as one parent would get in for free, which would keep costs down. We’re now Historic Houses Association members, so can now go whenever we want. It was a sunny day, the kind where you aren’t wrapped up which meant we had to get back to Painshill Park.

Painshill Park

It hasn’t changed, but there are changes. The Crystal Grotto is now restored and looks so much better for it.

The Temple of Bacchus is being recreated and will complete in July this year – that’s going to be one to go back for.

Painshill Park Gothic Tower

Over at the Gothic Tower there are big changes. I don’t remember there being toilets there before, but there are now. There’s a small pop-up cafe on the first floor which has a good selection of food which you can take out. That section of Painshill Park isn’t so isolated any more. I even made it to the top of the tower to check out the views for the first time.

Painshill Turkish Tent and Five Arch Bridge

My favourite view is from the Turkish Tent, looking across to the Gothic Temple. You can see the serpentine lake, and in the middle the island where the Crystal Grotto lives.

Painshill Park Woollett Bridge

What I’ve always liked about Painshill Park is how almost everything is accessible. There are areas which would be difficult for people with mobility issues or buggies, but Painshill have alternative routes. But bear in mind the Gothic Tower has a spiral staircase to the top. While it’s a lovely walk it might be worth having a baby carrier if you want to climb the tower.

It’s a lovely day out, a picturesque walk and even though you’re right by the A3 and the M25, there isn’t any noise from cars. I love Painshill Park.

For more information head here.

Painshill Park reflections

Country Kids