Blog – Scotney Old Castle: Scotney Castle: Echotny.


  • Lamberhurst, Kent.
  • OSGB – TQ 68938 35229.
  • Scheduled Monument.
  • Grade I Listed Building.


Medieval moated castle.

Quadrangular castle with round towers, of which only the southern one survives.  Included a gatehouse with a guard-room above. The site was spread over three islands set within a moat. At its height the manor included 4,000 acres.

The main island held the castle and was connected to the next, smaller island, to the south-west by a defensible bridge. This island is believed to have housed the stables and other buildings associated with serving the castle. On the third, and smallest of the islands, there is no evidence of structures.


Plan of Scotney Castle.
Hussey. E. 1887. Scotney Castle. Archaeologia Cantiana.Vol.17, pp. 38-46. Available online at


The site stayed in the Darrell family for just over 350 years.

Has been associated with smuggling.

Father Richard Blount, a Catholic who served his flock within the neighbourhood, hid in the castle in a Priests Hole. It was more than a hole, including a number of small areas. He was there for 7 years with his servant Bray. The servant surrendered to the Protestant forces who were looking for a priest, and this acted as a decoy, for they believed their work was done, unaware that the real priest was still there.


Secret Chambers
Hussey. E. 1887. Scotney Castle. Archaeologia Cantiana.Vol.17, pp. 38-46. Available online at


In 1837 alterations were being carried out and stone removed from part of the castle when the following note was discovered,

Beneath the  floor of a hiding-place, which was entered by a trap door, in the oak floor of the upper gallery, the situation of which is shewn in the accom­panying plate, were  found a printed proclamation “by  the  Lord Protector” (Oliver Cromwell), “Declaring his Highness pleasure and command for putting in execution the Laws Statutes and Ordinance made against Jesuits and Priests, and for  the  speedy conviction of  Popish Recusants,” and some other papers of little interest. (Hussey, 1887).



1137-1195          Held by Lambert de Scoteni.

1246                    Thomas Scoteni died, and was succeeded by his son Peter.

1289                  Walter de Scoteni was hung after being accused of poisoning Richard, Earl of Gloucester and his brother, William de Clare.

13th C                  Held by the Crown.

c.1378-1380       Built by Roger de Ashburnham as a fortified manor house after being granted a Licence to Crenellate.

1392                    Roger Ashburnham died, and he was succeeded by his son Roger.

1418                    Roger Ashburnham died, and the manor was purchased by Robert Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury. He stayed there a few times and then granted the manor to his niece, who married John Darrell. The Archbishop of Canterbury signed one of his Mandates at the castle.

1558                    In ruins.

1580                    The southern wing was rebuilt.

c.1591-1598       Father Richard Blount, the first Jesuit Provincial of England, hid at the castle whilst looking after local Catholics.

1598                 Father Blount and his servant Bray hid in a hole made into one of the walls for 10 days.

16th C                Remodeled.

1630                 The eastern wing was rebuilt.

17th C                Remodeled.

1720                 Arthur Darrell, the last in the male line, died and it passed to George, the second son of John Darrell of Colehill.

1728                   Mr. Darrell had demolished part of the castle.

1750’s                Areas of the manor were sold off to pay debts.

1774/5               John Darrell sold the manor to Mr. Richards.

1778                   Bought by Edward Hussey who built a new house also called Scotney Castle, in the grounds above the Old Castle.

1783-1792          Between: Edward Hussey bought back all the land which had previously been sold off to pay debts.

1807                    Edward Hussey inherited the manor.

1817                    Edward Hussey died, and he was succeeded by his son Edward.

1830’s                  New Scotney Castle was built on land above the Old Castle.

1835                     Inherited by Edward Hussey.

1837                    The moat was drained. Finds included a section of chain mail, and wine bottles, one of which had the coat of arms of the Duke of Beaufort on it. A note from Oliver Cromwell, as described above, was found in the castle.

1843                 Part of the eastern wing was dismantled.

1844                 Edward Hussey was High Sheriff of Sussex.

1848                 Edward Hussey was a member of the Sussex Archaeological Society.

1887                 The secret priest’s hole was discovered.

1889                 Edward Hussey was President of the Sussex Archaeological Society.

1905                 Until: Included Bailiff’s accommodation.

1933                 First scheduled.

1970                 Left to the National Trust following the death of Christopher Hussey.

1970’s-1980’s      Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, rented an apartment in the New Castle.

1986                 Excavated.

1987                 Surveyed and excavated.

1989                 Listed Building schedule.

1994                 Scheduling revised.

2001                 Surveyed.

2008                 Surveyed.

2011                 Surveyed.

2017                 A hoard of coins was uncovered in the castle, which included Roman coins.



References & Bibliography.

Blaauw. W. H. 1871. The Barons’ War: Including the Battles of Lewes and Evesham. Bell & Daldy.

Britton. J., & Brayley. E. W. 1813. The Beauties of England and Wales, Or, Delineations, Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive, of Each County, Volume 14. Longman & Co.

Burke. J. 1834. A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Enjoying Territorial Possessions Or High Official Rank But Univested with Heritable Honours · Volume 1. Henry Colburn.

Burke. J., & Burke. B. 1846. A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland. Henry Colburn.

Burke. B. 1852. A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain, Volume 1. Henry Colburn.

Ellis. W. S. 1885. The Parks and Forests of Sussex: Ancient and Modern. H. Wolff.

Ellis. W. S. 1890. On The Origins of The Arms of Some Sussex Families. Sussex Archaeological Collections Relating to the History and Antiquities of the County, Volume 37, pp. 17-38.

Foley. H. 1878. Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus: Historic Facts Illustrative of The Labours And Sufferings of Its Members In The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries. Burns and Oates.

Furley. R. 1874. A History of the Weald of Kent, with an Outline of the Early History of the Country. H. Igglesden.

Gaspey. W. 1866. Brackett’s Descriptive Illustrated Hand Guide To Tunbridge Wells, and The Neighbouring Towns. William Brackett.

Haigh. C. 1981. From Monopoly to Minority: Catholicism in Early Modern England. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 31, 129-147. doi:10.2307/3679049.

Historic England. 2021. A quadrangular castle and 16th/17th century manor house known as Old Scotney Castle, set in a 19th century landscaped garden. Available at

Hussey. E. 1887. Scotney Castle. Archaeologia Cantiana.Vol.17, pp. 38-46. Available online at

Johnson. M. 2018. Approaching Bodiam and Scotney Castles: A Comprison. In The Middle Ages Revisited Studies in the Archaeology and History of Medieval Southern England, pp.143-155. Archaeopress Publishing Ltd. Online copy available at

Kelly & Co. 1882. Kelly’s Handbook to the Titled, Landed & Official Classes. Kelly and Company.

Lower. M. A. 1851. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey, from 1066 to 1176. John Russell Smith.

Lower. M. A. 1870. A Compendious History of Sussex. G.P. Bacon.

Morris. J. 1872. The Troubles of Our Catholic Fore-Fathers Volume 1. James Stanley.

Mousley. J. 1959. The Fortunes of Some Gentry Families of Elizabethan Sussex. The Economic History Review, 11(3), new series, 467-483. doi:10.2307/2591467.

Muskett. P. 197). Military Operations Against Smuggling In Kent And Sussex, 1698-1750. Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, 52(210), 89-110. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from

Pettifer. A. 2002. English Castles: A Guide by Counties. Boydell Press.

Roberts. L. 1901. Sir Anthony Hungerford’s ‘Memorial’. The English Historical Review, 16(62), 292-307. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from

The National Trust. 2021. Scotney Castle. Available at

Thomas. G., & Jellicoe. G. 1980. Historic Gardens. Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 128(5285), 275-294. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from

Turner. T. H. 1859. Some Account of Domestic Architecture in England From Richard II. to Henry VIII. John Henry & James Parker.

Underwood. P. 1990. Ghosts of Kent. State Mutual Book & Periodical Service, Limited.

Underwood. P. 1993. This Haunted Isle: The Ghosts and Legends of Britain’s Historic Buildings. E. Dobby Publishing.

University of Southampton, Department of Archaeology. 2012. Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Kent Archaeological Survey (April 2011). Available at

Walford. E. 1869. The County Families of the United Kingdom. R. Hardwicke.



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