The historic village of Penshurst is six miles south of Sevenoaks in Kent, and only a matter of miles from the delightful towns of Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge.
The village is set in the beautiful Kent countryside and upon arrival you will feel as though you are in a Hollywood film set depicting England as it once was.
The jewel in the crown of Penshurst is the ancestral home of the Sidney family, Penshurst Place and Gardens.
Penshurst Place has been owned by the Sidney family since 1552; after passing through the hands of two of Henry IV’s sons, followed by Henry VIII who used it as a hunting lodge. Given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII, it was then owned by Sir Ralph Fane. It was gifted by Henry VIII’s son, Edward VI, to his steward and tutor, Sir William Sidney.
The estate was first opened to the public in 1947 and the mansion and extensive gardens are regularly open to visitors. Penshurst Place has recently opened a new exhibit for tourists to explore.
A Victorian kitchen in the historic manor house has been opened to the public for the first time, giving an insight into how a room would have been used. It was used as the house’s main kitchen from the 1800s through to 1950.
A vast Victorian table plus an antique collection of copper pots and pans form part of the immersive display.
Dr Hon Philip Sidney told BBC South East: “The house is 650 years old and all through that time it has been a centre of entertainment, cookery, food and hospitality, all the way back to Henry VIII being hosted by the Duke of Buckingham in 1519, all the way down to our weddings and hospitality today.”
On TripAdvisor, visitors have written glowing recommendations for Penshurst Place and its extensive grounds. User, FSKH, wrote: “Although the weather was dreadful, the setting and the house still looked spectacular and the gardens are beautifully kept.”
Another user, HRHlady, wrote: “Penshurst is fabulous. The house is beautiful, the guides are really pleasant to talk to, the history is absolutely fascinating.”
It is also worth a visit to the Grade I listed St John the Baptist Church which has a history stretching back to 1115. In the churchyard, in front of the porch, is a large stone table known as a ‘dole table’, which was used once a year to distribute money to the needy of the village.
Elsewhere in the village, you can explore old timber-framed buildings and old houses, go on countryside walks through the Eden valley, and head out for wildlife spotting to catch a glimpse of pheasants, deer, rabbits, foxes and badgers.
The village also has a London-links and is deep-rooted in its history. The original Leicester Square is in Penshurst village, the one in London was named by the Sidney family. The Sidneys built a London home in 1636 called Leicester House.
Penshurst Place historians write: “Until the days of Charles II, Leicester Fields was open country, the only building being Leicester House, on the north side. Leicester House was demolished between 1791–92. No trace remains except for the name now given to this famous square in London.”
The village has plenty to offer aside from the architecture and history. The village hall hosts events and fairs including the vintage Brocante fair and the annual village fete remains a big part of the community life.
Further afield is Hever Castle which is a popular visitor attraction as well as Knole House, a 1,000-acre medieval deer park.