Sissinghurst Castle | Kidadl

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Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines

  • Don’t miss out on a fantastic day out in Kent! Visit Sissinghurst, a National Trust property comprising an Elizabethan house and garden. 
  • Set in the middle of its own woods and streams, with long views of the Kentish landscape, kids will love the quiz-trail and activity packs and exploring the gardens.
  • Be sure to follow the nature trails around the lakes, bird spotting in the hide and immerse yourself into the history of the site.
  • If you’re a fan of art, then take a wander and explore the objects and art collections at Sissinghurst.

Sissinghurst Castle is steeped in history. The Tudor buildings were used simultaneously as a prison and a private family residence in the 18th century. Later in the 19th century, Sissinghurst became a poor house with approximately 100 men living and working there before it was given back to the Cornwallis family. In 1930, the house was sold to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson who resided there until Vita died in 1962 when Harold gave the property to the National Trust.

To restore Sissinghurst, the gardens were designed and laid out as a series of themed ‘outdoor rooms’. One of the most distinctive architectural elements of Sissinghurst is the tower, a four-storey red-brick Elizabethan tower that has capped octagonal turrets. This is where Sackville-West kept her study and wrote her book!

If you love history and want a glimpse into the past, the Long Library at Sissinghurst will be perfect to go to on your next visit. There is a rich and varied history at Sissinghurst, evidenced by the remaining buildings, which provide a glimpse into this estate's past. Or if you're happy to go slightly further afield, a visit to Smallhythe Place makes for a fascinating day of discovery!

Families can enjoy the Dragonfly Trail at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, make sure to pick up a map from the reception to begin your journey. On this trail, you can explore the woodlands, vegetable gardens, gardens, and lakes. There are lots of fun activities for you to try along the way as well as finding out about the vital conservation work which helps protect our estate. Pick a map up from visitor reception when you arrive to begin your adventure.

After, enjoy afternoon tea in the Granary Restaurant, where you can soak up the history, the gardens and relax, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. 

Don’t miss out on the nature bingo that Sissinghurst offers, the fantastic bird spotting and make use of the estate maps in visitor reception. Be sure to bring some colouring pencils and crayons, too, to make the most out of the trails in a creative way. 

What to know before you go 

  • There's no picnicking in the formal gardens, but Granary restaurant is open, and the food outlet is open, too, which serves a range of hot and cold drinks and some light snacks. They do delicious cheese scones and tea. Between 12 -3pm, they do hot food each day when it is open, plus there is a kids menu, too, to satisfy everyone's needs. There is also a coffee shop with a great selection of cakes, sandwiches and soup. This is right next to the second-hand bookshop and also a shop selling loads of great plants and garden ornaments.
  • Dogs are allowed around the estate if they are on leads, but they aren't allowed to go into the formal garden.
  • There are different levels, steps and slopes around the garden, so take care when walking. 
  • Baby carriers are not provided on the site, so visitors must bring their own, as pushchairs are not allowed to be used in the formal garden.
  • Pushchairs and buggies are inaccessible to the formal gardens, but you can park pushchairs at the Garden Gate House whilst viewing the formal gardens. Pushchairs can be used elsewhere on the 450 acres of the wider estate.
  • There are baby changing facilities on site at the Old Dairy cafe, which is by the main visitor toilets (next to visitor reception), plus in the granary restaurant.
  • There are on-site toilets and adapted toilets on ground level at the visitor reception and via a ramp at the restaurant. 
  • It’s important to note there are unfenced lakes, moats and ponds.

Getting there 

  • If travelling via train, Staplehurst Station is approximately five miles away and a taxi should be booked in advance.
  • You can walk from Sissinghurst village. To do this, go past the church and remain on the footpath on the left signposted to Sissinghurst Castle. The path can get muddy and is quite narrow on the approach to the main drive. When you get to the main drive, there is no specified path for walkers, but halfway down the drive, go towards the house and garden.
  • If travelling via bus, take the Arriva 5 Maidstone to Hawkhurst, which passes Staplehurst Train Station, to arrive at Sissinghurst, just over one miles walk to the Castle. If you’re getting a bus from Sissinghurst village, then go past the church to the footpath on the left, which is signposted to Sissinghurst Castle. Wear appropriate shoes and clothing. 
  • If travelling by car, Sissinghurst Castle is about two miles north-east of Cranbrook, one mile east of Sissinghurst village on Biddenden Road, off A262. Make sure to keep a lookout for brown signs, and the castle is on the left if coming from Sissinghurst village and on the right if coming from Biddenden and Headcorn.
  • There is a car park on site and designated accessible parking in the main car park.

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