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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 19 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

One of England’s most beautiful gardens, Sissinghurst Castle and gardens was rescued from decay in the 1930s, when it was bought by the author and poet Vita Sackville-West, and her husband, Harold Nicholson. Together they transformed the grounds into a series of ‘garden rooms’, filling them with abundant planting that continues to blaze with colour today.

The house became a hub for writers and artists, and alongside the garden some of the estate buildings are open to the public, including South Cottage, a small house in the centre of the garden that was Vita Sackville-West’s bedroom and Harold Nicolson’s writing room.

A visit to Sissinghurst is a glimpse into the literary life of two of Britain’s most famous writers, and the extraordinary garden they created.

Don’t miss 

Many of the ‘garden rooms’ blaze with colour, but The White Garden is a stunning, mono-colour array of white irises, pompom dahlias, gladioli and Japanese anemone.

The Gazebo, a small building on the corner of Sissinghurst’s moat, was built in 1969 to the exact specifications of the Apollo 11 lunar module, which had captivated the world that year. Harold Nicolson used it as his office; the desk where he wrote Portrait of a Marriage, his most famous work, is still in place.

While you’re there

Sissinghurst village, a mile up the road, is well worth a visit, with a clutch of small shops, restaurants and pubs. The Milk House is a chic gastropub, focusing on classic pub dishes with excellent vegan and GF options.

Price from: £11
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Sissinghurst is around 1hr 15 mins drive from London, and is located two miles north of Cranbrook, and a mile outside Sissinghurst village. The nearest train station is Staplehurst, an hour from London Charing Cross. Taxis are available but must be booked in advance; the station is five miles from Sissinghurst.

Wear sturdy footwear as the paths in the garden can become quite muddy, and there are lots of steps and different levels.

When to do it

The gardens are open all year round, seven days a week daily, with shorter opening hours in winter. As with any garden, the best times to visit are in the late spring and summer, although the garden does get busy with tour groups in those months.

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