One of the most beautiful garden
s in England
. It was created by the novelist V. Sackville-West
and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson
in the 1930s.
Sissinghurst is actually a village in Kent, and in the early 1500s Sir Richard Baker built a house there, called, not quite correctly, Sissinghurst Castle. It's far too low and laid back for a castle; but it's a very nice comfortable red-brick Tudor house of some opulence. Some of the apartments, including the low tower that Vita (the author) used as her office, are open for visiting.
During the Seven Years War it was a prisoner-of-war camp. It declined sadly, and in the 1820s it was a workhouse of the parish, and in the 1870s it was lodgings for local farm workers. In this sad state it was ripe for either demolition or renovation. Only a small part of the original building survives.
Vita and Harold discovered it, and bought it in 1930. They transformed it into a truly great garden. She died in 1962, he died in 1968, and it passed to the National Trust. It is such a popular attraction that in the last few years they have had to stop advertising it altogether, to try to stem the number of people visiting. A timed ticket system is in operation. The official NT name of the property is Sissinghurst Castle Garden.
In front of the main sweep of the buildings are formal gardens with box hedges. The White Garden is legendary. There are many other varied forms of semi-formal garden at different removes.
The name comes from the De Saxingherste family, who died out in the mid-13th century.