The present building of Lullingstone Castle was started in 1497 and is said to have provided inspiration for Otford Palace. Both Henry VIII and Queen Anne were regular visitors, and the silk farm that was later established here provided silk for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation gown. The house was associated with an extensive parkland estate on the western side of the valley, established on a medieval deer park.
The Lullingstone Castle Gatehouse is well known by walkers of the Darent Valley Path. This Tudor gatehouse was built around 1490 and is a precursor for the design of the Archbishop’s Palace at Otford, sharing many of its features. Built by Sir John Peche who was prominent in the court of Henry VIII, it is likely that the King visited the castle several times.
Similarly, other large estates were formed at this time and played a significant role in shaping the landscape. These included the 17th century Squerryes Court manor house and its surrounding parkland at Westerham; Combe Bank near Sundridge built in 1721 along with surrounding 60 ha parkland; Chevening House built in 1620 and its 280 ha parkland within a 1,400 ha estate; and Frank’s Hall near Farningham built in 1591 and its associated parkland. All of these sites are on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
The Lullingstone Castle project focuses on undertaking investigation and conservation work of heritage features within the Castle grounds. This is in addition to interpretation and access improvements for visitors. You can read more about this work, including our community archaeology project of the post-medieval formal gardens and conservation work of the 18th century flint bath-house next to the River Darent.