Kidadl
Aerial view of Ightham Mote with greenery and trees surrounding house.
Children playing in tall grass with minibeasts in containers.
Ightham Mote courtyard with pond and benches, bushes and house in the background.
Young kid investigating the dirt for minibeasts.

Ightham Mote

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Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Explore the majestic 14th century Ightham Mote, a National Trust site in Kent and explore local history, going back 600 years. 
  • Be sure to check out the moat surrounding the house, as it conjures up images of dragons, knights and all sorts of magical creatures.
  • Kids will have so much fun here with over 600 acres to explore, beautiful gardens and more.
  • They can learn so much about the history of the site, an escape from everyday life surrounded by beautiful gardens and greenery. 

Ightham Mote, a part of National Trust Kent, was constructed around 700 years ago, and this regal house has seen many changes. It’s been owned by Medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians.

Some highlights of this National Trust site include the scenic courtyard; a Tudor painted ceiling; a crypt; the Great Hall; a Grade I listed dog kennel and the private residential apartments of Charles Henry Robinson, who gave Ightham Mote to the National Trust in 1985.

There’s much to see, do and discover at this wonderful place, one the best National Trust places in Kent. Take a stroll around the Ightham Mote estate, of which there are three estate walks. These offer the whole family a uniquely spectacular view across the Kent countryside, boasting displays of flora and fauna. There is the renowned ancient bluebell woodland in spring at Scathes Wood, wildflowers in the summer, autumn colours and the crisp days of winter to come back and enjoy. Discover the hoppers' huts and the source of the water spring that feeds the moat at Ightham Mote.

Look out for the events that Ightham Mote do, like different garden trails, plus themed Thursday activities during Kent school holidays. There’s a children's garden map, which can help the little ones explore the historic garden, and marvel over its ponds, stream and lake fed by natural springs.

There are also theatre and music events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on what’s available, all taking place in the beautiful garden and grounds. Before a show, you could pop into the exhibition space to gander at the art and objects that Ightham Mote is home to.

If you want something to do while wandering the grounds, collect a quiz from the Conservatory, which you take before your arrival. 

You definitely won’t want to miss out on the natural play area, which can sometimes get messy, so it’s recommended you bring a change of clothes or a towel. From practising balancing skills on the beam, or sprinting through the living willow tunnel, there is plenty the little ones can do.

What to know before you go 

  • Toilets and baby changing facilities are available on site. Plus, baby changing facilities are available on site, too. Accessible toilets available - all located near the café.
  • There is Ightham Mote café, serving tasty homemade treats, refreshing drinks, and light lunches. There is always a selection of mouth-watering cakes, bakes and scones. There are children’s lunch boxes or enjoy a child-size portion of any of our main meals. Ightham Mote's café is the perfect place to relax and recharge and has high chairs available.  
  • Pushchairs can be admitted to the garden, but it should be noted that it is steep in some places, and there are steps, gravel and grass pathways, which may make it difficult to navigate. If you have a double buggy, this will need to use an alternative route around the gardens. Please speak to the staff on arrival so they can advise you. 
  • There are narrow paths, steep slopes and open water spaces; therefore, bikes, tricycles and scooters are not permitted on site. 
  • Registered assistance dogs are allowed and welcome in all areas of the site, including the garden.
  • Dogs on leads are welcome on the wider estate too, but not in the garden.
  • It is important to note that there are open waters, moat and ponds around the garden.
  • There are designated parking spaces for visitors with a disability, which is situated in the central car park. 
  • There are both shuttle buggies and wheelchairs available for visitors with travel access needs.

Getting there

  • If travelling via train, Hildenborough Station is the closest at four miles and Sevenoaks Station is just seven miles away. Both of these are on the London Bridge and London Charing Cross to Hastings mainline. Sevenoaks is on the Thameslink line, which goes from Bedford and is a convenient journey. Borough Green and Wrotham are also close stations, around 3½ miles away, they are both on the London Victoria to Ashford line. From these stations, you can get a taxi or a bus (bus route 404). Top Kidadl tip: if you show your train ticket in the Mote Café, you can receive a free cup of tea or filter coffee!
  • If travelling via bus, you can get the bus route 404 which passes by Sevenoaks Train Station, and this runs from Monday to Friday, the bus driver will drop you off at Ightham Mote if you let the driver know. The Autocar 222 route from Tunbridge Wells to Borough Green, which will exit at Ightham village George & Dragon Monday, from Saturdays is about two miles walk to Ightham Mote. Alternatively, the Arriva 308 bus route from Sevenoaks Train Station to Gravesend is an hourly service from Monday to Saturday that exits at Ightham village, just a two-mile walk.
  • If travelling via car, Ightham Mote is approximately six miles north of Tonbridge on A227, so ensure you follow the brown sign to the left along High Cross Road, and head towards Ivy Hatch and then turn left onto Moat Road. Ightham mote is approximately six miles south of Sevenoaks on A25, so make sure to follow the brown signs to the right along Coach Road. From Maidstone, it is roughly 16 miles west, on A20/A25, ensure to follow the brown sign to the left along Coach Road.
  • There is free parking for those with pre-booked tickets only.
  • If walking, Ightham Mote is situated just off The Greensand Way, which is the long-distance walking route across Surrey and Kent.
  • You can even cycle to Ightham Mote, the roads around the site are single carriage-way country roads, and they have National Speed limits. Tonbridge to Ivy Hatch Loop is the nearest cycle route. There are bike racks available for visitors near the Reception area. Kidadl top tip: if you arrive by bike, then you should let the café staff know as you can receive a free cup of tea or filter coffee.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines

Location

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Logo for the National Trust featuring an acorn leaf on a green background.

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The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest is a renowned charity and membership organisation in England, Northern Ireland and Wales that offers natural preservation for the most beloved heritage locations in the UK, including houses, buildings, coastlines, gardens and parks. With over 500 sites and attractions under their conservation and an ever-increasing 5.6 million members, the Trust is one of the largest wilderness and heritage protectors in the world and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary year since being founded in 1895.

With a National Trust membership, easily joinable via their website with family and lifetime options, you can enjoy free entry to all of their gardens, parklands and National Trust properties including the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, Knole in Kent and hundreds more. Partly owned by H.R.H the Prince of Wales, the National Trust aims to protect, preserve and develop the most treasured locations and outstanding areas of nature in the UK so that they can be enjoyed by visitors from across the world.

Image © National Trust Facebook.