|Stoneacre is a half-timbered 15th century Yeoman's House surrounded by gardens|
If you want a day out to remember, with some interesting old houses, filled with history and peppered with famous names, head for the three unique properties in Kent and East Sussex featured here and you'll also be able to enjoy their gardens - Stoneacre, Smallhythe and Monks House. You'll drive through some beautiful countryside and may even come home with some ideas for your garden at home. All three houses are under the umbrella of the National Trust and you can wander freely, inside and out.
|The rear of the house opens onto meadows, interspersed with mown grass paths|
Stoneacre was once home to Aymer Vallance - a typical late 19th century aesthete who was interested in the work of William Morris and Aubrey Beardsley and knew both of them well. He moved to this 15th century, half-timbered Yeoman's house near Maidstone in Kent when he was 58, and the following year he married for the first time. Together with his wife, Lucy, he restored the property and incorporated many Arts and Crafts features into it, including stained glass windows. In 1928 the Vallances gave Stoneacre to the National Trust. The tenants have created the garden here. Only open on Saturdays (11.00-17.30) and Bank Holiday Mondays.
|Smallhythe Place was the actress, Ellen Terry's home - and is famous for its roses|
Smallhythe Place - former home of actress, Ellen Terry - is famous for its roses. There's even a yellow rose named after her. Also located in Kent, known as the "Garden of England", this is a wonderful destination for foreign visitors, because you'll be treated to stunning countryside en route to Smallhythe and a classic timber-framed house on arrival, which looks as higgledy piggledy as a witch's cottage in a fairy tale! Add a garnish of roses on the front facade, and I suspect you've got your classic English cottage idyll here! Open daily (11.00-17.00) except Thursday and Friday.
|The orchard at Monk's House, near Lewes in East Sussex, with views over the church|
The third small garden that housed a famous resident, and compliments the other two here, is Monk's House near Lewes, former home of writer, Virginia Woolf, who bought the house with her husband Leonard as a weekend retreat in 1919. The cottage garden here is charming and although it only extends to a little over an acre, it's filled to bursting with colourful perennials. It also has wonderful views over the South Downs and surrounding countryside.
|Monk's House, former weekend home of Virginian Woolf, has extended opening hours this year|
Virginia Woolf was part of the Bloomsbury set, and her sister, Vanessa Bell, lived at nearby Charleston, another delightful garden just a few miles away. This year, Monk's House has extended opening hours, so you can visit on any day of the week (13.00-17.30) except Monday and Tuesday. All three of these gardens are visitable in a day and will take you through some of the prettiest countryside in southern England.
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