Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

The garden at Sissinghurst Castle in the Weald of Kent, near Cranbrook, Goudhurst and Tenterden, is owned and maintained by the National Trust. It is among the most famous gardens in England. Indeed, some garden enthusiasts would put it first.


Sissinghurst's garden was created in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West, poet and gardening writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. Sackville-West was a writer on the fringes of the Bloomsbury Group [Her passionate attachment to Virginia Woolf was not fully reciprocated.] who found her greatest popularity in the weekly columns she contributed as gardening correspondent of "The Observer", which incidentally—for she never touted it—made her own garden famous. Sissinghurst's garden is one of the best-loved in the whole of the United Kingdom, drawing visitors from all over the world. The garden itself is designed as a series of "rooms", each with a different character of colour and/or theme, the walls being high clipped hedges and many pink brick walls.The site is ancient— "hurst" is the Saxon term for "a clearing in the woods". A manorhouse surrounded by a moat was built here in the Middle Ages. The original building was replaced in the late 15th century by a large manor built by the Baker family—related by marriage to the Sackvilles of Knole and hugely enlarged in the 1560s when it became the centre of a convert|700|acre|km2|sing=on deer park. For Sackville-West, Sissinghurst and its garden rooms came to be a poignant and romantic substitute for Knole, reputedly the largest house in Britain, which as the only child of Lionel, the 3rd Lord Sackville she would have inherited had she been a male, but which had passed to her uncle as the male heir.

After the collapse of the Baker family in the 17th century, the building had many uses: as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Seven Years' War; as the workhouse for the Cranbrook Union; after which it became homes for farm labourers.

Sackville-West and Nicolson found Sissinghurst in 1930 after concern that their property Long Barn, near Sevenoaks, Kent, was close to development over which they had no control. Although Sissinghurst was derelict, they purchased the ruins and the farm around it and began constructing the garden we know today. The layout by Nicolson and planting by Sackville-West were both strongly influenced by the gardens of Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens and also by Hidcote Manor Garden, designed and owned by Lawrence Johnston, which Vita Sackville-West was instrumental in preserving. Sissinghurst was first opened to the public in 1938.

The National Trust took over the whole of Sissinghurst, its garden, farm and buildings, in 1967. The garden epitomises the English garden of the mid-20th century. It is now very popular and hence can be very crowded in peak holiday periods.

ee also

*History of gardening (with a list of notable historical gardens)



* "Sissinghurst Castle — An illustrated history" by Nigel Nicolson F.S.A., 1964 (with many reprints)
* "Sissinghurst — The Making of a Garden" by Anne Scott-James, 1974
* "Vita's Other World: A Gardening Biography of V. Sackville-West", by Jane Brown.

Further reading

* "Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History" by Adam Nicolson (2008). HarperPress. ISBN 0007240546.

External links

* [ Sissinghurst Castle Garden information at the National Trust]
* [ History of Sissinghurst Castle]
* [ Sissinghurst Castle Garden]
* [ Photo essay/visual overview]
* [ Sissinghurst Castle Farm B&B]

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