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CastleUK Blog 2013

Castle UK April Blog 2013 PageThis is the place where I record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

In castle hunt April we had a little one, just three sites, one day.
We were down in Hastings visiting family and Sissinghurst Castle was open, it's a site we've been wanting to visit for years, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, the gardens they created and of course the ruin of an Elizabethan manor house, Scotney Castle and Bayham Abbey nearby made it a good day out.
Both Sissinghurst and Scotney are National Trust, with Bayham being English Heritage but the price of admissions is over £55, it's a good job we're members. We set off from Hastings on the A21, it's a road we know well, passed the signs for Battle and Robertsbridge, on to Hurst Green and the lights at Flimwell, we climb to the Lamberhurst roundabout and the sign for Scotney Castle is there, our first port of call. The wind is blowing the clouds across the sun, it's warmer than of late and I went for the shorts this morning, don't know if it's a good move.
It's just before midday and the car park is half full, we head to the visitor reception to show our cards but it was 2006 when I last visited and things have changed. The reception backs on to the mid 19th century house built by Edward Hussey III, which is now open and on getting to the desk we are told that the gardens are closed because of the strong winds. So no castle but we can view the house we are told it's that elf and safely again, well 14th century moated castle or mid Victorian mansion, sorry that's a big no thank you, I'm feeling silly in my shorts and my kite is well and truly on, we leave, that's shown them me thinks.
We head for Bayham Abbey it's not far passed the Lamberhurst roundabout, there's a 14th century gatehouse and I want to get some better pictures and the Castle Spotters never been before. It's little car park is empty, I think the man in the reception is glad to see somebody, it's an impressive ruined 13th to 15th century Premonstratensian Abbey set in a landscape designed by Humphry Repton, the famous landscape gardener? We look in a couple of rooms which are open in the Georgian Gothic dower house but it's all wasted on me, I'm no fan of Georgian, we then head down to the gatehouse and while I'm taking pictures, the Spotter go off to the abbey. Next it's time to play the game of spotting the Spotter, it's a game I've played many times but it's easy in this big open abbey, feeling sorry for the man in reception I buy a souvenir guide and we set off for Sissinghurst.
We pull into the car park at Sissinghurst Castle, we show our cards because parking is £2 to non-members, walking out of the car park we don't know what to expect. It's a big old place, a 12th century medieval moated site, an Elizabethan manor house, which was used as a prison for up to 3,000 French sailors, who were captured by the British during the Seven Years War and then a poor house. From 1930 the working farm was transformed by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson who created the gardens here, they opened them to the public in 1938 and the entrance fee was one shilling or a bob to us up north. We visit the shop and get a token to enter the gardens, the bluebells are out in the garden of the Priest's House, we give up our tokens at the gateway in the 16th century brick built entrance range and head for the Elizabethan tower, well you can't miss it. There's great views from the top but that elf and safely malarky stops us again it's too windy, so we go into the orchard to see the moat and get some pictures but it's not the same, you see a tower, well you need to get to the top. The gardens are a bit bare, everything's 4 weeks behind with the cold weather at Easter, so the Spotter heads for the shop while I get more pictures, I find her coming out of the shop with arms full, so its back to the car and off to try to see the castle at Scotney.
The wind hadn't dropped and I was geared up to have a go at them about all this elf and safely malarky but they'd remembered the idiot in the shorts who'd shown them a thing or two and stopped me in my tracks, Scotney Castle is open and do you want to see the mid 19th century house this time, yes I said sheepishly and we showed our cards. We look around the house it didn't take long, we can only take so much Victorian, then it's a nice walk, with picturesque views of the ruins in the valley below. The castle was possibly always intended to be viewed from above and the Victorian house could be standing on the site of medieval residential buildings, like Bodiam Castle it was as a matter of course, built in the high status military architectural style, very defensible but no Edwardian fortress and was probably part of an elaborately design landscape.
Castles and water go together so well and with the gardens, Scotney is hard to beat, it's easy to get a cracking photo, the wallpaper for May is one of my best castle pictures, Scotney is a great way to end any hunt and this blog but watch out for that malarky.

For more information, click on the pictures.

Scotney Castle OS 188/TQ 689-352 Kent England WallpaperScotney Castle, OS 188/TQ 689-352 Kent England Wallpaper, is my May wallpaper and the picture was taken in April 2013, the view is looking across the moat to the inner island.
A 14th century irregular stone quadrangle fortress, which was probably founded in 1378 by Roger de Ashburnham. Supported on two islands connected by a defended bridge and encased by a wide moat, the surviving curtain wall of the inner ward, is now only a revetment to the moat. Heavily machicolated round angle towers flanked the wall but only the Ashburnham Tower is complete, the Darrell family, rebuilt the south wing in 1580 and added a brick three storey east range in 1640.
Newcastle CastleNewcastle Castle, OS 88/NZ 250-639 Northumberland England.
Was originally a Norman earth and timber fortress, founded in 1080 by Robert Curthose. Standing on a steep sided promontory overlooking the River Tyne, from the 2nd century the Roman fort, Pons Aelius occupied this naturally defensible site. In 1168-78, King Henry II founded the stone keep and bailey castle, when adding a five storey stone keep encased by a curtain wall, flanked by towers and two gatehouses. The site is owned by Newcastle City Council and is open daily, Monday to Saturday 10:00-5:00pm, Sunday 12:00-5:00pm. Located in Castle Garth which is freely accessible in daylight hours.
With the south curtain wall and postern plus the 12th century Castle Keep to climb, it's got to be on any castle hunters must do list.
Black GateBlack Gate, OS 88/NZ 250-639 Northumberland England.
Is the mid 13th century stone gatehouse of a barbican, founded by King Henry III. Flanking the exposed western curtain wall and defending the North Gate of Newcastle Castle it was the last medieval addition. Of four storeys and attic, the lower part is roughly oval and the upper is octagonal, to the fore is a square projection but very little remains of the medieval layout. Located in Castle Garth which is freely accessible in daylight hours.
The Black Gate is another great building and because the high level railway line cuts the castle in two, I've done the same on the website.

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