Shoreham Things to Do
Lullingstone Castle and the World Garden...
We'd gone past the strange old gatehouse at Lullingstone many times saying 'we must find out when it's open and go!'. Finally, on a baking hot July day we made it through the gatehouse. In the intervening years, the place had featured in a reality TV show, and was heaving with visitors!
Lullingstone, one of England’s oldest family estates, is set in wonderful countryside next to a huge lake - dates back to the time of Domesday, with the present manor dating from 1497. Home to the Hart Dyke family. Their website records that "Both Henry VIII and Queen Anne are known to have been regular visitors."
The house has a very fine interior with fascinating family portraits.
The 'World Garden of Plants' was conceived as a way of keeping the struggling estate together: the son, Tom, came up with the idea whilest being held prisioner by guerillas in South America!. Although only recently planted, it is already looking good - a 'must' for those interested in the origin of plants. The old walled garden has been laid out like a map of the world with plants displayed in the relevant country. The garden was only started as a project a few years ago, so is still quite young - will be really dramatic in 2008. Tom Hart Dyke was there when we visited and was selling plants in the grounds - very interesting and friendly guy to chat to. There are other lovely parts of the estate gardens to wander in, and some chairs and tables under shady trees. No tea or cakes though - a lot of work, I know, and this place really is a family affair, with the father serving on the souvenir stall.
St Botolph's Parish Church, near the house, is very lovely, with a tudor rood screen, some of the oldest stained glass windows in England and some interesting family tombs: marble lords and ladies reposing with their feet on heraldic beasts.
Only open a few days a week - check out these times on the website below a they are subject to change.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
A walk around Shoreham
The simplest - and laziest - walking route would be just to wander from one and another of Shoreham's lovely pubs, taking in the interesting church and pretty houses on route!
A favourite walk of ours is to park near the church and walk along the river, past the medieval bridge that Samuel Palmer sketched, (this is the path the path that lead along from the war memorial and Water House: the house that Samuel Palmer is said to have lived in), out along water meadows with their overhung riverbanks, past the pretty cottages that run down to the Darent.
Eventually, you come out into cornfields and, in late summer you'll think you are in Provence – the lavender fields will be blooming. This unusual crop was planted by Castle Farm who run a shop (http://www.hopshop.co.uk/) selling produce which is further on down this track. Carry on further along the river to Lullingstone Castle, (my next tip). Further on again from there, is the pretty village of Eynsford and its Roman villa.
My favourite pub in Shoreham (for when you need a break) is the King's Arms near the church - it is the shabbiest, probably, of all the pubs inside, but has the most character.
Hanging over the village is a white cross on the downs, dug in 1920, as a memorial to those killed in the first world war.
Shoreham Aircraft Museum houses thousends of aircraft relics, and exhibits relating to the Batle of Britain. Shoreham was the most bombed village in Britain during 1939-45 conflict.
Some of the houses near the King's Arms and Water House are very interesting - with flint facades and some strange heads over the porches (pictured) : would be interested to know a little more of their history.
The local people are interesting too , in my view - the village has become pretty well-heeled, as ion a commuter route to London - you often see, amongst local pub drinkers, bling 'in-comers' in the form of women with highlights and orange tans and men who subtly remind you of Tony Soprano.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
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