I need to tell you about a truly gorgeous, hidden gem that I have discovered - and if you're going away with the gang it could quite be one of the best options in Kent AND Muddy readers get 25% off...
I need to tell you about a new hidden gem that I have discovered in Kent.
It was a hot day at the end of the Summer holidays and truth be told, I was running out of ideas to entertain the rats (as I affectionately call them) and needed a solution that was not going to cost an arm and a leg to enter and keep the younger lot occupied so I could catch up with my mother-in-law, (of which I am blessed with a goodie). And I cracked it.
So, drumroll where is this place? Let me introduce you to Goodnestone Park which is a stunning, privately owned stately home and garden near Canterbury. Gorgeous Goodnestone Park is the family seat of Julian Plumptre, the 22nd Lord FitzWalter and sits in 15 acres of land and manicured gardens.
Jane Austen was a regular visitor here. Her brother Edward once lived on the estate and she based the double wedding in Pride & Prejudice on his marriage to Sophia Bridges and Sophia’s sister Elizabeth’s wedding to William Deedes that took place in that very church. You are literally living and breathing a little bit of literary history in a corner of Kent.
THE WHAT (TO DO)
Our visit ticked so many boxes as there were indeed acres of land for my children to roam and explore including many trees to climb and hidey holes to squirrel themselves away in. While we were able to admire its truly stunning gardens with an abundance of enthusiastic workers (including a lovely looking elderly couple who volunteer there which adds to the local feel of the place) on site tending to it.
The walled garden dates back to the 17th Century with a rose garden, herbaceous borders plus vegetable potager area and provides true inspiration for anyone looking for help in this department.
If you desire a more adventurous meander, Goodnestone Park looks out onto to a restored 18th Century parkland with many walks there available to the public.
The Serpentine Walk was a favourite of Jane Austen and almost encircles the entire village. Great for adults, children and dogs, the Serpentine Walk was originally designed for the ladies of Goodnestone Park House so they could wander around the grounds, whilst the men were off hunting and shooting.
If you are bit of an art-buff, then you should also drop into The Other-Space which is a contemporary art gallery curated and run by the other-art network and contained in a newly renovated Victorian stable in the grounds of the park.
SCOFF & QUAFF
And when it all gets too much, refuel at the recently opened Old Dairy which launched in May this year and will be open throughout the winter months.
This is not an ordinary tearoom as the chef, Chris, comes from Corner House in Canterbury so you can expect some inventive and delicious dishes as well as the classic sandwiches to keep everyone happy.
One of the winning factors is that most of the vegetables are sourced from the gardens just behind the kitchen which really adds to the taste sensation as well as feel-good factor.
You can also sip on apple juice made from heritage varieties grown in Lord FitzWalter’s orchard.
On our visit, I went for the Smoked Haddock and Sweetcorn tart with dressed salad, crunchy coleslaw and herby (sage, mint and parsley from you know where) new potatoes whilst my mother in law chose the Roasted Cauliflower, Tomato and Ashmore Cheddar Quiche with the same accompaniments.
There were plenty of other dishes that also took my fancy pork, chicken apricot and pistachio terrine as well as the Aubergine, green bean, butternut squash and coconut curry) plus I hear that their Gypsy tart and the cream teas are also not to be missed. I shall be back.
Kids were very well accommodated too and Sue, who runs The Dairy Café, was wonderful and dealt with their idiosyncratic requests (ham sandwich but NO butter, ham sandwich WITH butter but tomato on the side – grrrr) with a big smile plus colouring pens/paper/drinks with fun straws to keep them happy and occupied.
EVENTS & WEDDINGS
You should keep an eye out for some of the spectacular events that are hosted at Goodnestone Park throughout the year including outdoor theatre, opera and concerts from classical to jazz and rock as well as talks and supper club evenings.
A production of Sense & Sensibility was hosted at the end of the summer which must have made for a truly atmospheric night with guests bringing picnics and wine to enjoy alongside the live performance.
Coming up, I know that there is an Open Day on 6th October, Christmas Fair at end of November as well a reading of ghost stories around Halloween so we shall keep you posted of those deets.
As you can well imagine, Goodnestone Park also makes for a fantastic venue for a wedding or celebratory event and is licensed for marriages.
There are plenty of options that you can discuss with team choosing either to host your wedding at its dedicated ceremony barn (pictured), within the house if you are looking for a smaller wedding or for those wanting a religious ceremony, the historic Holy Cross church is a stone’s throw from the house.
Do not fret if there is no wedding or big celebratory event on the horizon. The house makes for the perfect get-together for friends and family so you can divvy the costs with everyone.
Having been sensitively – of should that be Sense and Sensibility – restored to its former glory and sleeps 24 in 12 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, 5 reception rooms including Drawing room, Dining room with seating for 24, Library, first floor sitting room with TV/DVD, hallway with sweeping staircase, huge breakfast room, Kitchen, Large gardens and grounds extending to 15 acres, extensive terraces, BBQ with ample parking.
They have also thought of absolutely everything to make your stay as memorable as possible with plenty of activities for kids such as croquet or petanque or even archery could be easily arranged within the grounds as well as clay-pigeon shooting, golf and horse-riding locally for the bigger kids amongst you.
Land sports not your thing? Then take a hot air balloon flights (or private helicopter) and admire the panoramic views of the Kentish countryside from up above. And then relax it all off with private yoga, pilates, massages and beauty treatments back at the house. Nothing is too much.
Have I sold you yet? If not, they are now offering 25% off all house bookings (exclusively for Muddy readers) up to 26 March 2020 subject to availability, if you quote MUDDY when booking, so go and find some friends NOW.
The Gardens and Old Dairy are open until Friday 27 September (inclusive) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays & Sundays from 11am to 5pm.
From Sunday 29 September onwards, the gardens will be open 7 days a week from 11am to 4.30pm until next spring.
From Thursday 3 October, Old Dairy will be open from Thurs through to Sunday from 11am to 4.30pm until just before Christmas and there is talk of launching a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays – watch this space.
Dogs are very welcome too and allowed everywhere except the Walled Garden so a great place to let off steam for all everyone.
Entrance to the gardens: £7 for an adult. £2 for a child – 6-16.
Old Dairy Café: Sandwiches cost from £5.50 and the more ‘exotic’ dishes from the Specials range from £8 to £10.
House Rental: Prices start from £4,620 for 18 people for a two-night stay (off-peak). So our exclusive Muddy discount is a stonking saving (just sayin’).
Weddings: Talk to the Events team directly about costs if you would like to host your wedding there.
Goodnestone Park Gardens, Goodnestone,Kent, CT3 1PL, email@example.com, goodnestonepark.co.uk