Isle of Albion
Photographed: Friday 11th May 2012
Site rating:

Scotney Castle dates to around 1378AD, and its construction is attributed to Roger Ashburnham. Despite its design, the absence of a "license to crenelate" suggests that it should more correctly be thought of as a fortified house.

The castle fell into the hands of the Darrell family during the 16th Century. In 1580AD, they undertook a program of rebuilding, incorporating a number of typically Elizabethan features into the south wing.

From around 1591AD, Thomas Darrell colluded with Father Richard Blount to use Scotney Castle as a hiding place for Catholic priests escaping persecution. To this end, numerous "priest holes" were installed - secret chambers and passages that could be used as hiding places and means of escape. This continued until 1598AD, when the authorities arrived at Scotney to arrest Blount. They spent a number of days searching the house over the course of two raids, but Blount was able to avoid capture, and eventually escaped across the moat.

Around 1630AD, the east range was rebuilt in a contemporary style, dwarfing the earlier buildings. This was dismantled around 1840AD when the Hussey family built a new manor house on a terrace above the original building, turning the remains of the castle into a romantic garden feature. The Elizabethan wing and single surviving tower remained in use providing accommodation for the estate's bailiff until 1905AD.

Today, Scotney Castle survives as a stunningly picturesque ruin in the gardens of the Victorian manor(the manner is now referred to as "Scotney Castle", and the older ruins as "Scotney Old Castle). Although this is a unique and strikingly beautiful site, it must be noted that the National Trust seem to treat the ruin as an afterthought. The excessive entrance fee is paid for access to the gardens, and at the time of writing, the building wasn't open to the public.