|The thumbnails below are
linked to larger pictures
Sissinghurst was originally the site of a stone manor house
built in the middle ages, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I it was replaced by
a splendid mansion built by the Baker family. Sir John Baker was Chancellor of
the Exchequer who lost much of his large fortune during the Civil War when he
backed the wrong side. The building subsequently deteriorated and was further
damaged when used by the government as a prison camp for French prisoners of
war, in the end two thirds of it was demolished.
On a rainy day in April
1930 Vita Sackville-West came to view the 'castle' with her son and immediately
fell in love with Sissinghurst, buying it with 400 acres of the surrounding
In the first two years
of ownership Vita and her Husband Harold Nicolson, she a plantsman and him a
designer, made a complete plan of the garden that has never basically changed.
Now after more than 70 years their vision of a truly English garden is
realised, and enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year. The garden has been
carefully conserved and renewed by the National Trust since taking over the
property in 1967.
The highlights of Sissinghurst are the Rose Garden
which is the best known, but is at its peak for little more than the month of
June. The White Garden which due to its careful orchestration is lovely
throughout the season. The Lime Walk which is a spring garden, but designed by
Harold Nicolson on classical Italian lines. My own favorite is the Cottage
Garden, which was conceived as an enhancement of cottage gardens everywhere in
England, but maintains a fairly narrow colour band of yellows, reds and
oranges. These together with the other gardens are set off to perfection by the
tall tower of pale pink brick that captivated Vita when she first saw
Sissinghurst. She wrote some 20 books in the Tower room and it remained her
sanctum until her death in 1962 aged 70.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden can
be found one mile east of Sissinghurst village on the A262 near Cranbrook Kent.
|Sissinghurst in July 2006
|Sissinghurst in July 2009
|Sissinghurst in July 2012