When weekend comes, it means that myself and Mr J is on the hunt for another National Trust place full of history, mysterious atmosphere and that distinct smell of vivid memories that comes from the old walls.
So one lovely Sunday morning, we woke up, had our stretches, I was on my way to the kitchen on a mission to make a breakfast full of protein. Regardless of how daring and creative I am on a Sunday morning food wise, it has to involve eggs. Mr J is being very creative with his requests and his favourite dishes range from fried eggs to eggs Benedict and scrambled eggs. That’s Englishman for you with his little soft spot.
I sometimes try pulling my rebellion card and make pancakes or million other breakfast variations, which Mr J welcomes and never complains, but you should see his beaming face overwhelmed with joy when he is served scrambled eggs with salmon or fried mushrooms on a crunchy wholemeal toast. Priceless.
After fuelling up for the long day ahead, running around the house getting ready, singing songs, usually absolutely childish and borderline retarded, trying on different outfits and demanding a fair comment (which must always be flattering) by someone you might guess-whom, we are all good to go on our little weekend adventure.
This time after 5 very long minutes look at the National Trust map, we’ve decided that Scotney Castle needs to be blessed by our modest visit. As we were going from Central London, it took us about 1.5 hours to get to the place. It was a nice ride, if you live London before 1pm on Sunday, you are hardly ever stuck in traffic.
Scotney Castle is no ordinary castle. Scotney Castle is just one name for a huge estate and when you get there, you get to see country house, romantic garden, and 14th century moated castle, which is referred to as Scotney Old Castle.
Country house was built between 1835 and 1843 to replace the Old Moated Castle, as it just wasn’t practical enough, nor big enough. It’s called country house, but it is really a huge Victorian country mansion fully furnished. It has some mind-blowing atmosphere in it. I guess the fact that the last resident, Elizabeth Hussey, dies in 2006 adds to it big time. Her husband, Christopher Hussey, left the estate to National Trust, providing his wife can live there till the day she died. She over lived him by 36 years, which is a little bit sad.
Scotney Castle belonged to the Hussey family from 1778 to 2006. By looking at the family history, one might suspect that they angered some very powerful witch somewhere in the 18th century, as one can hardly say that Hussey family was one happy family. Edward Hussey bought the castle in 1778 , he was a barrister who later played regular cricket for the M.C.C. Following Edward’s suicide at the castle, his son and heir, without thinking too much, decided to follow his father. The Old Castle must have been doomed. His widow thought something was in the air, and moved away her family, including Edward Hussey III.
Edward III, however, had no fear and having a keen interest in the architecture, decided go back to his mother land and built the new Victorian mansion. Clearly was a clever man and thought it might not be a good idea to have a new life in the old haunted castle were his relatives fancied killing themselves. His servant also drowned himself in the moat, which makes you think twice as to whether there is something in the air after all. Alongside with building the Victorian mansion, Edward planted trees, expanded the garden and shaped the estate to the extent we see it now. So it’s all due to him that we have this beautiful state of art.
Sadly, looks like the family was doomed after all, as after Edward III died and his son inherited it, himself and his wife, Elizabeth Hussey, were the last people to live there. Childless Elizabeth Hussey died at the good old age of 98. One might suggest that being childless, after all, is not a bad idea as her body clearly served her well, not being burdened by pregnancies ever.
There is not much information about Elizabeth Hussey, apart from the fact that they knew which men to marry and had some irresistible charms. Not many knows, that Elizabeth was the niece of Wallis Simpson. If you don’t know who she was, then shame on you, especially if you are from England! This woman totally rocked and knew how to make a long-lasting impression!
She was the American socialite who became the mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales, during her second marriage. Who said you need to be young to marry a prince? Two years after his succession to the throne as King Edward VIII, her divorce from her second husband and the monarch’s subsequent wedding proposal to her provoked the greatest constitutional crisis of the 20th century. Whether you like it or not, but Mrs Simpson knew how to make a scandal.
Edward abdicated in December 1936 and married his lover months after his younger brother George VI had taken his crown. Only thanks to her, one petite woman from the US, the current Queen has come to power. Had Wallis been less powerful with her charms, we could have seen a completely different royal family story. Something to think about, especially for those who think that women don’t decide anything in this world.
In the same year as the abdication of King Edward, Christopher Hussey Elizabeth, who was known as Betty, at Westminster on April 23, 1936. Quite a story.
Now we get the opportunity to touch this amazing piece of history and visit this magnificent place. When you walk into the house, it feels like the owners just left for a second and will be back any time. Everything remained exactly the way Elizabeth left it and you can just plunge into this atmosphere of an era that’s gone forever.
As you walk in, you see this amazing wooden staircase and wooden panels, that always make my heart melt. They are just fascinating, so grand, they make such a statement, that if I could, I would have wooden panels everywhere in my house. I appreciate that it will be slightly over the top, but I might be able to negotiate to have at least one room in this fashion. Mr J waisted no time and run up the stairs,
as that’s what children do.
In some rooms it was very dark, and you are not allowed to use flash, so I have quite a bit of pictures which are rightfully titled “Lady in the Dark”
Once you are done playing in the entrance hall, it’s time to explore the house. As a typical mansions, it has a study, a library (that look surpsisingly the same and has incredibly similar purpose, but why would you have one room, when you can have two), dining hall, then dining room and then I lost count of what other rooms are for.
Dining room has everything one posh dining room should have. Being an ordinary mortal, I fail to see when it will be my chance to dine at a table like this, so may be I should opt for an opportunity of going to one of those fancy balls around the country where everyone gets dressed up and pretend they are Lords, Barons and Viscounts.
As we headed towards the kitchen, a very cute little surprise was waiting for us. A cat. Yes, I mean the animal. Cats are ubiquitous indeed. Apparently, it’s not just a kitchen that belonged to an old lady. Now this kitchen belongs to the cat which Elizabeth Hussey was the proud owner of. The lady is 6 feet under the ground now, but the cat will live forever. He has his own place and the window is open for him, so that he can come in and out whenever its Highness pleases so. What I find fascinating, is that everybody unilaterally just agrees that the cat is the boss and feed him without any questions asked. That is some real power.
Kitchen is very 60s style, which is something Mr J approves very much. I still don’t know how we managed to escape having 60s style kitchen in our house, bearing in mind what a fan of 60s is you-might-guess-whom.
When you get upstairs, you get to see two reception rooms and several bedrooms. Every room has got a fireplace, as obviously it was the main source of heat, but it does sadden me greatly that ever since we invented gas/electrical heating, they fell out of fashion. What could be better than a real fire in your room, that spreads the amber light across the room, makes the atmosphere just magical and super relaxing? Fireplaces must be back, there is no question about that.
The bedrooms have all the cute little features you might expect from a house with centuries of history. One of the rooms also had one very interesting dress on display, dated back to 1920s, it just screams of history and class.
Then you can have a peak into the master bedroom, which says it all. I love how up until recently, having a dressing table for women was an absolute necessity. I am still confused as to how women let it happen that it’s not a necessity anymore. We haven’t become any less girly, yet dressing table was removed from us! It’s just unfair and radical change must take place shortly. Table dressings and a dressing room, adjacent to the room, must be back as a minimum requirement to meet basic female needs.
The house is full of cute little things that need to be photographed. Please note that white mini-statues on a mantel piece were found in the bathroom. In the bathroom!! Just by looking at all these details, it just makes you think that may be, just may be, in the 21st century we are missing something and got it all wrong with all this modernisation.
Once you are all inspired and absorbed enough history of the house, you get out of there and… you get to see the Old Castle! It’s just a never ending fun really. As you walk down, you are surrounded by some seriously picturesque views. You feel almost like a little princess/prince when you are heading towards this little fairytale Castle hidden in the woods.
You might not be able to resist and start taking pictures of some very happy woman walking in front of you.
Once you are there, in front of this fairytale castle, you can’t just go inside. You have this urge of standing in front of it and posing till you get any decent image. Then you, obviously, have the sun in your face, become blind and instead of glamorous pictures of you standing in the sunlight with perfect glowing skin, you just get funny poses till you give up and put some glasses on. Funny pose still remains though for some reason.
The Castle is, sadly, unfurnished so you don’t get that thrilling excitement because you can only stare at the windows and old walls. Nevertheless, outside it’s absolutely stunning. It’s also very old, it was built circa 1378-80.
There is also a tiny chance that the place belonged to small elfs or orks once upon a time, as it has some suspicious tiny doors and very low arches, as Mr J seriously struggled going through them without being at a risk of losing his head.
The Castle does look very romantic. Apparently, they decided to disassemble the castle from one side, to make it more picturesque. So they ruined the castle on purpose, to make it look nice! That’s some sacrifice in the name of art. All the ruins are covered with wild and not-so-wild flowers and ever-greens, so it does look very pretty.
Inside the old castle you get to see very, very old windows, that makes the outer world look rather interesting. I am obviously obsessed with staircases and I still think that it’s a shame that wooden staircases are something of the long gone past.
There was very one interesting chair inside the house that looked like a great-grandfather of the modern wheelchair. Modern wheelchair sucks big time in comparison from the aesthetic point of view. The door with hearts was very special too.
The moat around the house was beautiful too. It was very tranquil and felt like you just don’t want to leave the place. Just stay there forever and live with ghosts, sheep, and frogs.
I was not allowed to stay and live there, so I had to opt for some posing instead to commemorate the place.
We stayed there for a little bit more, while I was trying to get the best energy out of the place and all the inspiration possible. On our way back, we had another lovely view. Very green, very powerful, yet beautiful at the same time. We got to see a path, which is dated back to the early Medieval Age, when it was thought to be the path for the cattle, especially little pigs, to be moved to the areas of pannage or to the nearby market.
Most of the National Trust places have got Tea Rooms, because National Trust care for people and understand that people need some tea and cake after several hours of history and inspiration. It just makes your day perfect. We felt a little bit hungrier than we should have been, so we opted for one cheeky sandwich too. It was, of course, wholemeal bread, because nobody can eat any other type of bread under my close supervision, as other options are just not healthy. We had cream tea with some home-made scones, which is not ideal in terms of sugar intake, but it is allowed as a treat. My camera by then, of course, waived at me and told goodbye as I didn’t charge it long enough, so I left with phone camera option only. Sad story.
Which surprised me, and what is super relevant in terms of underlying idea of this blog, is that they were offering Cream Tea for one with two massive scones, clotted cream and jam. What you see above is just one portion, but why is it one portion? Why are we being pushed into over-eating? Who needs two scones, which in essence are four slices of bread really, as you cut them in two? It’s just wrong and asking for getting fat and increased food wastage, as I had just one and it was more than enough.
Most of the people in the queue were taking two scones each, as only one cup of tea was offered with the deal. The deal is just wrong, even though it doesn’t surprise me, as the majority of people would just go for it without thinking twice as to whether they should eat all of it. It’s just a typical example of how all these little annoying problems translate into obesity epidemic, really sad.
Overall, Scotney Castle is a must-see for anyone living in England and beyond, regardless of your age or location. It’s just a place full of magic, history, inspiration and beauty in every single corner.