The Secret Gardens of Sandwich, Kent

This time last year Katherine and I were on the island of Santorini, enjoying the rest and relaxation of  our honeymoon.  One year on and we were celebrating our first anniversary in Sandwich (one of the medieval Cinque Ports of Kent) staying at the wonderful Bell Hotel (fantastic food), not as glamorous I grant you, but a delightful little Kentish village basking in similar temperatures to that which we enjoyed in Santorini.

The higgledy rooftops of Sandwich; a view from the Bell Hotel

Whilst there we discovered ‘The Secret Gardens of Sandwich,’ a splendid walled garden covering some 3.5 acres.  The garden, originally designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and complemented by the planting of style of Gertrude Jekyll, has undergone extensive recovery and restoration having been left to nature for 25 years.

Long borders at the Secret Gardens of Sandwich

Lavender hedge at the Secret Gardens of Sandwich

A view of the Lutyens designed house at the Secret Gardens of Sandwich.

The planting was typical of and English country garden and there was an excellent little vegetable garden which really mixed up the planting of vegetable and flowering plants to great effect:

Mixed veg and flowering plants

We also visited the extant Roman fort at Richborough or Rutupiae, an impressive structure and higly evocative of our Roman past.  Whenever one visits such sites these days there are the inevitable information boards dotted about the place and one is usually offered an audio tour from which to glean facts and details; personally I shun these things to a large extent as I prefer to get the sense of the place and its surroundings rather than reduce it to facts and figures.  I’ll look at the architecture and try to fathom why this is this or that is that, touch the stone and feel the mass and bulk of the place.  Granted, a little knowledge is useful and I will scan the information boards briefly but I do tend to read up on a place before I go.  The fort, for example, once sat on the coast whereas now it is some miles inland and this knowledge helps one conjure a picture of  the bustling sea port that this place once was out on the fringes of the Roman Empire.

Ancient and modern; the walls of Rutupiae with the chimneys of Richborough Power Station in the distance

The most striking thing about the site is the contrast between the fort and the Richborough Power Station in the distance, which was decommissioned in 1996.  Oddly, despite the fact that the chimneys of the station would tower over the fort if they were side by side, I find the fort more solid, more permanent than the chimneys.  It leads one to wonder which structure will best survive the next 1000 years and more?

Poppies in a corn field at Rutupiae

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Lovely photos. I know what you mean about the power stations.

    Reply

    • Glad you like the shots. I’m surprised the power station is still standing, not sure if they use it as a tourist attraction?

      Reply

  2. I think the house (what is it called) was once used on Watercolour Challenge. The gardens are lovely. The buildings in Sandwich are really quaint.

    Reply

    • I think the house is called ‘The Salutation’ and it would make a lovely subject for a painting. Quaint is indeed the right word but it is funny to think that once upon-a-time it would have been a bustling port full of sailors and merchants, probably a long way from quaint!

      Reply

  3. Lutyens and Jekyll – hard to beat. Happy Anniversary. Christina

    Reply

  4. Happy Anniversary, and thanks for bringing us along. I enjoy checking out blogs from other parts of the world — it’s like going on a virtual vacation. Great photos. Cheers!

    PS — I also like your WordPress background. I chose the same one for my own blog.

    Reply

    • Thanks Kevin and glad that I could give you a little vicarious travel experience. I’m thinking that plenty of people will have the same background for garden related blogs! I actually want to have a phot as the background but just haven’t had the time to get around to doing it so I’ll keep this for now until I do.

      Reply

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