A beautiful example of a medieval (and then Tudor) fortified manor house is Penshurst Place, located in the picturesque village of Penshurst, about 85 miles south of London’s Heathrow airport.
Penshurst Place and Gardens
This historic mansion is not on the typical tourist “radar” but for a taste of life in aristocratic England in the 14thcentury, take the time to visit this beautiful castle-home.
I was very impressed how beautiful this estate is—the stone work, interior decorations and landscaping—even in February I could tell how much care went into the well-manicured landscape. Some people come to tour only the gardens.
The outstanding feature of Penshurst Place is the Baron’s Court (also known as the Great Hall) with its original chestnut wood beams from 1341.This room (and the entire estate) is now used on occasion for weddings, conferences and other events (pictures aren’t really allowed in the Baron’s Court, but I got a quick one of the ceiling!).
Sir John de Pulteney built the Manor house on 4,000 acres he purchased in 1338. In 1382 the defensive features were added—making it almost a castle—including eight large towers and crenellated walls. King Henry VIII owned this home for a period of time, and today a descendant of the Sidney family, who received the home as a gift from Henry, is the custodian.
Penshurst Place is part of the English Heritage system, meaning purchasing an English Heritage membership allows entry to this site and many others for one fee. The single entry fee as of February 2012 was £9.80 for the house and gardens. Visit penhurstplace.com for more information.