RETURN TO KENT – EXPLORING THE NORTHERN AND WESTERN PARTS OF THE COUNTY
This year we are pleased to announce that we will be returning to Kent to visit some of the historic houses and building in the northern part of the County. For those who were lucky enough to join us for our tour of the Castles of Kent in 2016 will remember the outstanding visits to Leeds Castle, Penshurst, Dover Castle, Walmer Castle, Lullingstone Roman Villa, Igntham Mote and Hever Castle. This year we are visiting our weekend is filled with visiting some of the other areas of this County. For a printable copy of the itinerary for this years vivist to Kent please click [here].
Day 1 (Friday 15th May)
DARWIN AND THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Our weekend starts with a visit to Darwins House in South London. This is a unique place where the renowned scientist lived and wrote the book ‘On the Origin of Species’. We will have a tour of the house, with narration by Sir David Attenborough, and the chance to walk around the gardens and greenhouses.
RIVERHILL HUMALAYAN GARDENS
In the afternoon, we venture on to Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, first established in 1840 by John Rogers. John was one of the founding members of the Royal Horticultural Society and a contemporary of Charles Darwin. The gardens are renowned for their fine collections of rhododendron, azaleas and specimen trees as well as the woodland bluebells. There is also an Edwardian Rock Garden, rediscovered having lain forgotten for nearly 70 years.
We are staying at The Danes Hotel, Hollingbourne, Near Maidstone.
Day 2 – Saturday 16th May
We start our day at Scotney Castle. This building has a long history dating from 1137. From 1778 the house was occupied by the Hussey family until it was left to the National Trust in 1970. The main part of the house was built in 1837 by Edward Hussey III from sandstone quarried from the grounds of the old castle. We will have a tour around the house and also the opportunity to visit the walled garden and the extensive grounds and gardens.
In the afternoon we visit Maidstone Museum, established in 1858. The museum is said to be one of the finest and largest, outside of London, with exhibits of fine art, human and natural history.
Day 3 – Sunday 17th May
We head south in the morning to Smallhythe. The village was a small thriving shipbuilding port. We visit Smallhythe Place. This early 16th Century timber framed house was bought by Ellen Terry, a renowned Victorian Actress, in 1899 and stayed in the family till it was transferred into a museum in 1928 by Ellen’s daughter. The barn has been converted into a small theatre where a diverse programme of productions are still performed throughout the year.
CHAPEL OF ST THOMAS A BECKET
In the afternoon we venture into Capel where we will visit the church of St Thomas a Becket. A small Norman church, rebuilt in 1639 after a fire. This is a Grade 1 listed building under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. it has a striking post roof and extensive wall paintings that cover the walls of the nave.
Day 4 – Monday 18th May
SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL AND CHARTWELL
We are spending the day at CHARTWELL, the family home and garden of Sir Winston Churchill.
Chartwell was the much-loved Churchill family home from 1922 and the place from which Sir Winston drew inspiration until the end of his life. The rooms remain much as they were when he lived here, with pictures, books and personal mementoes evoking the career and wide-ranging interests of a great statesman, writer, painter and family man. We will explore the house with a guided tour giving us a unique insight into the life of Churchill, his family. We all know that Churchill was an avid painter who produced over 500 pieces of work and we will be able to see many of his paintings and artwork in his studio.
There is an excellent cafeteria where we can get lunch and afterwards wander around the hillside gardens that are said to reflect Sir Winston’s love of the landscape and nature. There are over 80 acres of woodland, walled kitchen garden, waterfalls and lakes and beautifully manicured terraced lawns. Lady Churchill loved roses and you can wander around her lovely rose garden. Winston even designed and built a playhouse, the ‘Marycot’ for his youngest daughter Mary, and this should be open for viewing.
We are ending our trip with a cream tea at Chartwell before boarding the coach and heading back to Huntingdon.