You can’t go too far in Kent without bumping into a castle or stately home. One of my favourite castles in Kent is Hever Castle, and if you’re planning a day trip there from London you can easily add a visit to Chiddingstone Castle to your itinerary - they’re only 10 minutes apart. And if you have a Historic Houses Association membership you can visit both for free.
Chiddingstone Castle is situated in the village of Chiddingstone, near Edenbridge. Originally a Tudor house, it was remodelled in the early 19th Century to resemble a medieval castle.
From 1955 the castle was home to Denys Eyre Bower, a former bank clerk and antiques dealer. Denys was a collector of art and antiques, and he purchased Chiddingstone Castle to display his collection with the intention of opening it up to the public.
After his death he left the castle and his collection to the nation. A private trust was created with the mission of preserving the castle and his collections “for the enjoyment and learning of future generations”. The castle currently holds over 8,000 objects, including Japanese armour and swords, Ancient Egyptian antiquities, Buddhist artefacts, and antique books.
Beyond Denys’ collection there are a few other rooms in the house which are open to visitors. One of the most impressive rooms is the oak panelled Great Hall.
There’s also a Tea Room located in the old Buttery. They have indoor seating as well as an outdoor courtyard. Since it was a sunny day we enjoyed our tea and scones outside.
Outside the castle there are 35 acres of informal gardens to explore, including a rose garden, a Victorian Orangery, large lawns, woodland and a fishing lake.
Unless you have a particular interest in Japanese collections, I wouldn’t really recommend making a special trip to Chiddingstone Castle. However, if you happen to be in the area visiting one of the many other historical properties then it is definitely worth popping in for a visit.
- Chiddingstone Castle is open Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Bank Holidays until the end of October. Opening hours are 11am to 5pm (last admission 4.15pm).
- The adult admission charge is £9.50. Historic Houses Association members can visit for free, except for on special event days.
- Parking costs £2, there’s an honesty box located in the car park.