Scotney Castle


Scotney Castle is a ruined fortification in Lamberhurst, Kent in the South East of England. It's popular with tourists not just for the building itself but also for the picturesque grounds and the romantic setting.

Attractions of Scotney Castle include its lakeside setting, the gardens and a thatched ice-house. The site has been designated one of the Seven Wonders of the Weald.


Scotney Castle was built in the 14th century, probably by one Roger Ashburnham. Although it is called a "castle" it was in reality a manor house designed to be heavily fortified and withstand attack. The 14th century wasn't an especially peaceful time and towns in the south of England were at constant risk from French marauders.

For several hundred years Scotney Castle was the ancestral home of the Darrell family. Edward Hussey arranged to buy the castle in the 18th century and he had built a new residence overlooking the original building. This is often referred to as the "new castle".

In 1970 the estate was taken over by the National Trust.

Father Blount

Scotney Castle is perhaps most famous for the 16th century activities of Father Richard Blount. Thomas Darrell had added numerous priest holes to the building - these were secret chambers that could be used for hiding priests fleeing state persecution (Catholicism was illegal in England at that time). Father Blount was a Jesuit priest who, with the help of Darrell, lived in the castle and conducted religious services for local Kent Catholics. Blount's activities continued from 1591 to 1598 when his location was betrayed and the authorities attempted to capture him. The priest-holes of Scotney hid him well and the authorites spent many days looking for him during two raids. Blount was aided by bad weather that hampered the search and eventually he escaped over a rear wall and out through the moat.

The Dripping Ghost

Like all good castles, Scotney has its own ghost. This is the spirit of a man that haunts the castle and is usually described as dripping wet.

Arthur Darrell occupied the castle in the 18th century until he was outlawed for smuggling and fled. He reportedly died abroad and his body was returned home for burial 1720. However Darrell is not the ghost of Scotney Castle. Rather it is suggested that despite the burial he was still very much alive.

It's said that Darrell faked his own death so that he could continue his smuggling operations without fear of pursuit. The ghost of Scotney Castle is said to be that of a Revenue Officer who discovered Darrell's secret. Darrell then allegedly killed the unfortunate civil servant, weighed his body down and threw it into the moat. It is from the moat that the ghostly figure is sometimes seen emerging today.

The story of Darrell's faked death is given credence by the fact that in 1924 his coffin was opened - and found to contain nothing but stones. So if that part of the story is true, could the spooky tales of the dripping ghost also be correct?

External Links:
National Trust: Scotney Castle Visitor Information