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Southeast England: Stately Homes, Canterbury & Dover

Southeast England: Stately Homes, Canterbury & Dover

Mar 15th, 2013, 10:25 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
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I'm so glad the Sissinghurst Farmhouse is open to guests again. I was staying there in 2004 when Nigel Nicholson died and the garden closed for a day for his memorial service, marquees on the lawn. My bathroom was the size of a living room and appropriately included a sofa. I hope they haven't updated it too much. Last time I visited it wasn't open for guests so I'm very pleased to hear it. I may visit again just for the pleasure of staying in the house.

I also recommend Great Dixter, a very idiosyncratic garden, the best kind. And beautiful old house.
MmePerdu is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 10:39 AM
  #22  
 
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Just had a look on the Sissinghurst Farmhouse website and it is very changed but certainly beautiful. I suspect many will think it much improved but I liked the old place too. You'll love staying there. It makes one feel special, more a guest of the garden than just a B&B.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 11:28 AM
  #23  
 
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http://www.sissinghurstcastlefarmhouse.com/

is this the place? looks lovely. well found, vicki.
annhig is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 11:36 AM
  #24  
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Yes, that's it. I stumbled across it when I was looking at the NT Sissinghurst site. The innkeepers have been very responsive and I love the idea of being able to wander the gardens in the early morning and evening without the public being there. Apparently there are some local pubs that offer very good meals, so I think I'll be quite happy there. Tea and cake upon arrival and breakfast each day - that's the life!
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Mar 15th, 2013, 12:01 PM
  #25  
 
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Vickie, I'm so glad you decided to have a car. As you see, it makes all the difference!
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Mar 15th, 2013, 12:11 PM
  #26  
 
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Please do fit in Canterbury! The cathedral is magnificent. We chanced to be there on the 800th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Thomas à Becket, and the British floral society had done arrangements all over the building. The one placed where Becket was murdered was made of hundreds of red roses cascading down the wall into a red pool at the bottom.

Just in case, and for other travelers, we stayed in Tonbridge at the Rose and Crown Hotel, a lovely old inn--and awoke to snow.

This is also Winnie the Pooh country.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 12:16 PM
  #27  
 
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This probably too late, but here's my 2 cents:

I'm the lone voice for not having a car ... I live in London and often do day trips and I don't drive -- I don't even have a UK driving license. I did drive the 1st year I moved to the UK (the 1st year you're allowed to drive with an international driving license) but haven't since then. Usually, trains, buses and taxis suffice. They aren't as efficient as driving by a long stretch, but its soooo much easier than driving and navigating and is way less stress. Plus, the taxi drivers are usually a font of information.

If you want to maximise your time here, a car is the way to go. If you want to relax and perhaps alter your itinerary to suit public transport, then public transport's the way to go.

IMHO, of course.
ssachida is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 02:18 PM
  #28  
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Have added Great Dixter and Scotney to my list now, so will work out a draft itinerary using the map and see what time is left over. I'm will try to fit Canterbury in (already checked out their Park & Ride system to avoid driving in the city)since I'll likely need a break from stately homes and gardens. I'll keep you posted on the final itinerary!
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Apr 9th, 2013, 11:55 AM
  #29  
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My trip is only six weeks away, so I've come up with a draft daily itinerary and would appreciate your feedback!

Some background info...In general, I'm most interested in the houses themselves with the gardens being a nice benefit; I'll likely stroll through the gardens but one rose looks like the next to me, so my main focus at any of these sites will be the houses. I also like to really get the feel of the houses and tend to linger in each room reading the descriptions (so, not a walk in, scan the room and walk out again type). Am not a fan of crowds or children so will avoid playgrounds & kid-focused activities/rooms like the plague (hence, no Hever). But enjoying a nice scone, cake or sandwich while I rest my tootsies is always appreciated, so welcome any recommendations about tea rooms & cafes at or near these spots.

Sun, 6/2: Arrive at Gatwick @ 12:50, pick up rental car and drive to Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse. Pick up National Trust touring pass there, have tea and wander gardens. Dinner at local pub.

Mon, 6/3: Siss gardens again (before they open to public). Drive to Scotney Castle for their 11 AM opening; drive to either Penshurst or Standen (I'm on the fence about Penshurst since it seems - via it's web site - rather commercial and busy; Standen seems lower key, plus I like Arts & Crafts style.) Then, off to Ightham.

Tue, 6/4: Drive to Chartwell for 11 AM opening. Drive to Knole (have lunch at their Brewhouse restaurant) and wander the house until they close @ 4 and then go to gardens.

Wed, 6/5: Drive to Canterbury to visit cathedral, take walking tour and explore the city (all day)

Thu, 6/6: Drive to Bateman’s, Bodiam, Great Dixter. Maybe drive to Rye and wander.

Fri, 6/7: Check out of Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse; drive to Dover, check into B&B, spend the afternoon at Dover Castle

Sat, 6/8: Return rental car to Dover location. Walk (cliffs?); minor shopping at Boots, bookstore, etc. Taxi to cruise ship terminal and board ship (for Oslo and fjords)

I’m open to any comments, suggestions, etc – thanks very much!
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Apr 9th, 2013, 12:33 PM
  #30  
 
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Sounds like a fabulous trip. Just a few specific comments: "Am not a fan of crowds or children so will avoid playgrounds & kid-focused activities/rooms like the plague (hence, no Hever)."

Many of the stately homes have adventure playgrounds etc (they hve to attract UK families to boost attendance/earnings) - but thees have no effect on 'adult' visitors if you don't want it. It would be a shame to miss Hever IMO. The House is really interesting for both history and the conversion by the Astors. Plus the grounds are MUCH more than just the kiddie stuff. You don't need to go near the ankle biters

"Drive to Scotney Castle for their 11 AM opening; drive to either Penshurst or Standen (I'm on the fence about Penshurst since it seems - via it's web site - rather commercial and busy; Standen seems lower key, plus I like Arts & Crafts style.)"

Unless things have changed a LOT (it has been maybe 4 years since I last visited Penshurst) - the house/grounds aren't commercialized at all. Also - I LOVE Scotney, but the reason to visit is the gardens/grounds - not the buildings (except for the 'castle' at the bottom of the Garden) . Maybe someone has been to Penshurst recently - but IME Penshurst better fits your brief than Scotney does. Though both are terrific . . .

"Drive to Chartwell for 11 AM opening. Drive to Knole (have lunch at their Brewhouse restaurant) and wander the house until they close @ 4 and then go to gardens.:

Get to Chartwell around 10-ish that is when the grounds open. The house opens at 11. Otherwise if you spend any time at all in the grounds (including Churchill's painting studio) after touring the house you'll be having a pretty late lunch at Knole.
janisj is online now  
Apr 9th, 2013, 01:02 PM
  #31  
 
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Vickie, now that you'll be seeing more of the countryside you may want to consider a membership in the National Trust American auxiliary, the Royal Oak Foundation: http://www.royal-oak.org/index.php

Membership gives you free entrance to all the National Trust managed properties, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ and there are loads where you'll be going. Some on your list are, like Sissinghurst, Knole, Chartwell, Scotney Castle and some may not be but look on the National Trust site and see if it might be worth your while. The Trust magazine and other benefits also come with membership.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 01:14 PM
  #32  
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MmePerdu: I may still join the Royal Oak Foundation (I think a single membership is $65). However, on the National Trust site, under the Shopping section, I found that they sell Touring Passes for 1 person, 2 people or a family in one and two week increments which provide free access to all their locations. I bought a 1 week single pass for 24 pounds which will pay for itself very quickly (I added up the entrance fees for the NT places I'm going and they total 72 pounds). Other than this trip, I probably won't visit any other NT properties this year, so opted for the touring pass. THanks!
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Apr 9th, 2013, 01:17 PM
  #33  
 
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And thanks for that information, Vickie. I didn't know about the pass.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 01:36 PM
  #34  
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Janisj: Great tip about Scotney, so will replace it w/Penshurst (so Monday will become: Penshurst, Standen & Ightham). And getting to Chartwell for the 10 AM opening - I did want to see his painting studio, so that's a good way to get a head start on the day. Hever...I'll have to see where I can fit that in. I may put it on my B list as a backup. It's a shame that the houses don't open until 11 or later, but guess that leaves more time for breakfast and navigating to these spots!
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Apr 9th, 2013, 03:37 PM
  #35  
 
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Vickiebypass--Let me know how you like the Farmhouse. I came across it too in my research and it looks great.

Definitely write a trip report when you return. I want to hear all the details so it can help us in our planning. Have a great time!
europeannovice is offline  
Apr 9th, 2013, 03:58 PM
  #36  
 
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if you spend longer than you expect at Chartwell, they have a very nice cafe down by the car park and shop.

they used to do timed entries at busy times; i don't know if they still do or if you can pre-book a time slot.

don't underestimate the time it will take to get from one place to another, particularly if we start to get some good weather, as that will bring everybody out.
annhig is offline  
Apr 9th, 2013, 10:03 PM
  #37  
 
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don't underestimate the time it will take to get from one place to another, particularly if we start to get some good weather, as that will bring everybody out.

fairly low risk, I'd imagine (at least it seems that way)
indy_dad is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 03:02 AM
  #38  
 
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they're predicting 20c for this weekend, indy, at least in London.

it probably won't worry us down here though.

I hope you need to get the sun-block out soon.
annhig is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 04:04 AM
  #39  
 
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Last time I was at Chartwell (about 2 yrs ago), they still did the timed entry. We hadn't been aware of this and were lucky to get the last slot of the day (it was a busy Summer Sunday as I recall). The cafe was OK, but as usual for NT unable to cope with demand on a busy day (lots of used pates, galsses etc piled up on the tables and window frames). On a Tuesday it shouldn't be that bad.
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Apr 10th, 2013, 10:22 AM
  #40  
 
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I looked at the website and couldn't see any sign of timed entry.

I'll look in my membership book later and see if that helps.
annhig is offline  

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