Explore Kent and Sussex. Blue Badge qualified guided country house tours in Kent. Blue Badge qualified guided country house tours in Sussex.

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Castles and Stately Homes

In the South East you can discover more castles and historic houses than in any other region of England.

Dover Castle, the ‘Key to England'. By "unlocking" the castle, hostile forces believed they could drive open the door to the rest of the country. Today you can unlock the gripping WW2 world of the Secret Wartime Tunnels, where the evacuation of Dunkirk was controlled. The recently transformed Great Tower tells the story of King Henry II and his court.

Canterbury is one of England's oldest cities with a uninterrupted history. The story of its magnificent World Heritage Site - the glorious Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church - begins in AD 597 when St Augustine came to bring Christianity to southern England.

Plunge yourself in the military might of Rochester Castle, among the finest examples of Norman building in the country. Then experience the peaceful ambience of England's second-oldest cathedral - Rochester Cathedral.

Get some unexpected insights into the personality of Winston Churchill at Chartwell, his country retreat.

Don’t miss out on The Cinque Ports - made up of 14 towns, from Hastings in the west to Margate in the east. Each of the towns has a wealth of heritage and maritime customs for all to find out about.

Stunning Ightam Mote is on the must list. This moated medieval manor has features spanning many centuries. Only a short drive away is Knole, here you can bring dreams of grand living alive in one of England's great treasure houses, home to the Sackvilles.

Follow in the steps of the Tudors through the real-life settings of the dramatic love intrigues of King Henry VIII.

At Hever Castle discover how Anne Boleyn spent her childhood and find many artefacts unfolding her notorious romance with the King. Growing from a lake in 500 acres of parkland, Leeds Castle is the embodiment of style as well as heritage.

Deal Castle was one strong link in the chain of coastal fortresses built by order of Henry VIII, who feared invasion from France. A little further along the coast is Walmer Castle & Gardens. Find out how this Tudor fort changed into the graceful dwelling of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle in Kent and has a history going back 900 years. It has Norman foundations; a mediaeval gatehouse; the Gloriette, built by Edward I and updated in Henry VIII's times; a Tudor tower; and a 19th century country house - all of which were significantly refurbished in the 20th century. The Castle is  positioned on an island enclosed by a moat.

The interiors are sumptuous, appropriate to a castle that was once inhabited by Henry VIII's wife Catherine of Aragon. Apart from the Castle, visitors will also find an Aviary, craft café, dog collar museum, golf course, vineyard, falconry and maze.

Batemans (Rudyard Kipling’s House)
Bateman´s (Kiplings House) is a 17th century Ironmaster´s house, the former home of Rudyard Kipling from 1902 to 1936. This family house is as it was in Kipling´s day, with plenty of ambience, situated in the beautiful Sussex countryside. There are many oriental rugs and artefacts reflecting his connection with the east. The garden was designed by Kipling with roses, wild flowers, fruit and herbs. A working water mill and Kipling´s Rolls Royce all enhance this house´s appeal. 

Walmer Castle & Gardens
Walmer Castle was one of a chain of coastal artillery forts built by Henry VIII that has been changed into a graceful stately home. It was the official residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports that included William Pitt the Younger and the Duke of Wellington, who died here in 1852. On exhibition is a collection of prints and portraits of the castle and its wardens. The beautiful gardens include the Queen Mother´s Garden and the Broadwalk with its yew tree hedge.

Smallhythe Place
Smallhythe Place is an early 16th century half timbered house, which was the home of the Victorian actress Ellen Terry from 1899 until her death in 1928. It contains many personal and theatrical mementoes, and beautiful stage costumes from her partnership with Sir Henry Irving at the Lyceum Theatre. In the bedroom are pictures of family and friends along with her combs and brushes. The enchanting garden includes her rose garden, orchard and nuttery. The Barn Theatre is also open for performances.

Squerryes Court
Squerryes Court is a 17th century manor house that has been the home of the Warde family since 1731. In the hall is a portrait of Sir Patience Warde who became Lord Mayor of London. The upstairs landing houses a small collection of Grand Tour paintings including works by Van Dyck and Rubens. Also a fine collection of furniture, porcelain and 18th century Soho tapestries. Items connected with General Wolfe of Quebec, a family friend, are displayed in the Wolfe Room. The gardens were re-landscaped in the mid 18th century but some of the original features remain.

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