1806 | Kent, Sussex & Essex

This historic corner of England is home to some of our most famous gardens


This tour takes you to some of England's finest gardens, in Kent, Sussex and Essex, the three counties in the south-eastern corner of England. We visit world-class, internationally-renowned gardens, like Sissinghurst Castle and Hever Castle, in Kent; Great Dixter in Sussex; and The Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex.

Our hotel, for all but the final evening of the tour, is in rural Kent, on the edge of the Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and as you cross Kent you will cross the North Downs, a long chalk escarpment which, where it meets the sea at Dover, is exposed as the White Cliffs of Dover.

The Weald
The Weald - sometimes the High Weald - is a medieval landscape of wooded, rolling hills studded with sandstone outcrops, small, irregular-shaped fields, scattered farmsteads and ancient routeways. It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and covers parts of Kent, Sussex and Surrey at the heart of South East England. The word 'weald' is from Old English, itself from the German word 'wall', meaning wood or woodland.

Tenterden - the Jewel of the Weald
Tenterden is one of the nicest of Kents many historic market towns, and we will have the opportunity to explore it, during the week. It is a 'Cinque Port' and claims to be the birthplace of William Caxton, who in 1477 printed the first English book.

Cinque Ports
The Cinque Ports is a historic association of maritime towns and villages in Kent and East Sussex, dating back some 1000 years, which, until 1588, provided a fleet of ships and the men to sail them to meet the military and transportation needs of the nation in return for valuable privileges.

Sleeping & Eating
We spend the first four nights of the tour just outside the traditional market town of Tenterden, at the Little Silver Country Hotel, a traditional, homely and friendly hotel, serving fine food, and our final night closer to The Beth Chatto Gardens, in Essex, at a hotel yet to be confirmed.

We will dine-in, at the Little Silver Country Hotel twice, on the first and third evening, and dine out twice, at two of our favourite establishments, the Fish Café, in Rye, on the second evening, and at the Three Chimneys, close to Sissinghurst, on the forth evening.

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At a glance
Garden tour
9 gardens including:
Private garden tour
Max group size 18
Sissinghurst Castle
Canterbury Cathedral
Great Dixter
One private guided tour
Country Hotel
Hever Castle
Historic city of Canterbury
Superb food
Pashley Manor
Fully Escorted
Day 1 | Monday, 21 May

From Stansted Airport to Tenterden, via Hever Castle & Gardens

Sofia will meet you at Stansted Airport and take you by coach, around the east side of London on the M25 motorway, for lunch and the afternoon at Hever Castle & Gardens. Famously the home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, but it is a much later resident, the wealthy American socialite, William Waldorf Astor, whom we must thank for the magnificent gardens we see today. Astor laid out the gardens between 1904 and 1908, employing some 800 men to do so, and laid a miniature railway to move the earth from the creation of the hand-dug lake!

We have lunch at Hever and you will have tickets for both the gardens and the castle. It is then about an hour's drive to Little Silver Country Hotel, our home for the next four nights, and, once we have settled in, we will gather in the bar for drinks, dinner and to talk about the week ahead.

Today's total driving is about 180 km

Monday, 21 May
Hever Castle, birthplace of Anne Boleyn
Day 2 | Tuesday, 22 May

A great day out over the border in Sussex

We start the day with an hour, or so, in Tenterden, to explore this lovely market town, before our morning's visit to Pashley Manor, James and Angela Sellick's Grade I listed timber-framed house, dating from 1550 and enlarged in 1720 - creating an unusual Tudor-Georgian combination. The gardens have been open to the public since 1992, and they are, almost more than any other garden we visit, the quintessential English garden.

After lunch, at Pashley, we continue on to Great Dixter, the home of the late Christopher Lloyd, whose spectacular garden is one of the most inspirational gardens in Britain. Following Lloyd's death in 2006, Dixter was put into a trust and saved for the nation, it is in the capable hands of Lloyd's head gardener, Fergus Garrett, and has, if anything, improved in these past few years.

Late in the afternoon we will leave Dixter and drive into nearby Rye, a splendid medieval hill-top market town, for a stroll around its ancient cobbled streets, a drink and dinner at the wonderful Fish Café.

Today's total driving is about 100 km

Tuesday, 22 May
Early Wisteria on Pashley Manor
Day 3 | Wednesday, 23 May

A day on the North Downs in eastern Kent & Canterbury

We spend today on the North Downs, the long line of chalk hills ending in Dover with the White Cliffs, firstly with a visit to Belmont House for a private guided tour of the gardens with head gardener, Graeme Watts. Belmont's gardens were laid out in the 1790s and, although the large walled Kitchen Garden was restored in 2001 to a design by the renowned Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, they remain understated and this, we think, is part of their appeal.

Late in the morning we drive into nearby Canterbury, for lunch and some free time to explore this historic city, before a mid-afternoon guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican communion.

It is then about a 45-drive home to Little Silver Country House, where we will can relax over drinks and dinner.

Today's total driving is about 110 km

Wednesday, 23 May
Gardens on the medieval city walls, Canterbury
Day 4 | Thursday, 24 May

A day of two castles, at Scotney & Sissinghurst

Our day starts at Scotney Castle, a wonderful park landscape with not one, but two, castles, formal gardens and a wonderful Victorian walled kitchen garden. The 'old' castle is a charming romantic, moated ruin and the 'new' house a picturesque home, built by Edward Hussey in late eighteenth century, and Christopher Hussey, last Hussey to live here, gave it to the National Trust in 1970.

After a full morning and lunch, at Scotney, we drive to Sissinghurst Castle - undoubtedly one of the highlights of any garden tour and rightly so, they remain one of Britain's best-loved gardens. Created in the 1930s, by husband-and-wife team Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West, the gardens have stood the test of time and you will have the whole of the afternoon in which to enjoy them.

Dinner is close by at one of our favourite pubs, the Three Chimneys, where we have been dining for about 15 years, and this year they have been awarded the title of Good Pub Guide Kent Dining Pub of the Year 2017!

Today's total driving is about 80 km

Thursday, 24 May
Sissinghurst Castle gardens from the tower
Day 5 | Friday, 25 May

From the heights of the North Downs to rolling rural Essex

We depart Kent and retrace our route back across the Thames, but not before we spend the morning on the North Downs at Emmetts Garden. A charming Edwardian estate, it was laid out in the late nineteenth century and contains many exotic and rare trees and shrubs from across the world and, standing on one of the highest spots in Kent, it offers wonderful views over the Weald.

Late in the morning we cross into Essex, to visit RHS Garden Hyde Hall, one of the Royal Horticultural Society's four gardens. Essex is Britain's driest county, and it is no co-incidence that both Hyde Hall and Beth Chatto are famous for their dry gardens. Hyde Hall is one of the finest gardens in the East of England and its 145 ha estate is constantly evolving.

From Hyde Hall we drive to tonight's accommodation which is yet to be confirmed, but will be within an easy drive of both Beth Chatto's garden and Stansted Airport.

Today's total driving is about 160 km

Friday, 25 May
Bluebells at Emmetts Garden
Day 6 | Saturday, 26 May

One final highlight and home for supper

We spend our final day at The Beth Chatto Gardens, undoubtedly one of the most influential gardens of the last half-century. The story dates to the early 1960s, when the original fruit farm was sold and, to carry on and develop the gardens, Beth Chatto started a small nursery. It began modestly, with one girl and a Saturday helper, but eventually acquired more land to become the nursery and garden it is today - with an astonishing choice of over 2000 different kinds of mainly herbaceous plants and bulbs!

It is about a one-hour drive to Stansted Airport, where the tour ends and where we plan to be in good time for your evening flight home.

Today's total driving is about 80 km

Saturday, 26 May
The Gravel Garden, once the car park, at The Beth Chatto Gardens
General Notes

During our tours, we endeavour to be as faithful to our itineraries as possible, but sometimes changes do occur, either necessarily or unavoidably.

Need some help?
We have prepared some helpful information - under 'Essential Information', and this information is designed to enhance your holiday. The pages are, 'An Introduction', 'Additional Information', 'Booking and Paying' and 'Travel Information'.

The tour area map
Click on the Google map of the tour area, and it will open in a new window. The various tour locations are marked GREEN (for gardens), ORANGE (for other attractions), RED (for pubs, hotels and restaurants) and BLUE (for transport) - and click on these markers for more information.

Tour Information
21 - 26 May
6 days
15 000,00
Single person suplement:
1 800,00

This tour may only be paid for in SEK, into our Nordea PostGirot account.

Fully Booked - Kent, Sussex & Essex
This tour will start from Stansted Airport, where you will be met by the tour guide, Sofia Ray.

Information, as to exactly where and when we will meet, will be sent to you once we know the flight times of all the participants of the tour.
There are no specific notes for this particular tour.
Click to see where we visit