The new house

The ruin at Scotney Castle, with the new house beyond. ©NTPL/John Miller

The garden at Scotney Castle, in Kent, is one of the finest surviving examples of the Picturesque landscape style. Around 1840 Edward Hussey III commissioned Anthony Salvin to build a new house there. The garden was designed by William Sawrey Gilpin, who incorporated the ruin of the old castle in a picturesque composition that could be admired from the new house.

The hall at the new house. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Edward’s grandson Christopher Hussey inherited Scotney in 1952. He was an architectural historian who contributed to Country Life for over 50 years. In 1927 he had written a pioneering study of the Picturesque movement, which was directly influenced by his experience of the garden at Scotney. He was also one of the minds behind the National Trust’s Country Houses Scheme, through which historic houses were beginning to be secured in the 1940s.

Christopher Hussey's study. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Christopher and his wife Betty reinvigorated the garden, and they furnished the house with heirlooms as well as new purchases. Although they were keen to preserve the original neo-Elizabethan decor, the interiors also clearly show their own taste and interests. 

Some of Christopher Hussey's books. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Husseys’ friends have testified that Scotney was a happy and welcoming place. The interiors show what life could be like in an English country house in the twentieth century, with a relaxed coexistence of old and new.

The kitchen. ©NTPL/John Miller

Scotney was left to the National Trust upon Christopher’s death in 1970, but Betty continued to live in the house during her long widowhood. After her death the contents of the house were accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust in 2008.

The bamboo bedroom (during 2010 this room may only be open on selected days). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The house is now open to visitors. It adds another layer to the already rich and multifaceted experience of Scotney.

8 Responses to “The new house”

  1. columnist Says:

    The house has a wonderful perspective, and from the pictures you show, looks very liveable; but possibly there were acres and acres, (inside), requiring the army of staff that one can no longer afford, (or find!).

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes in the nineteenth century there must have been a number of servants, and gardeners as well obviously. I will find out from my colleagues how many there were then, and how Christopher and Betty Hussey managed to run the house and garden, more recently – I will report back.

  3. Janet Says:

    I love the picturesque ruin! And the kitchen…I think it is fantastic that the NT has kept it like that.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes the aim is to keep it as real as possible. Mrs Hussey was a cat person, and her issues of Your Cat magazine have also been left out on a table somewhere.

    Tune in next week to see a charming watercolour by a friend of the kitchen and some of the other rooms!

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Chloe Tapping, the house manager at Scotney, has just sent me a few details about servant numbers there. Based on the census reports, there seem to have been twelve indoor servants in 1871, three outdoor servants and two gardeners. In 1891 the numbers were similar: ten servants indoors, four outdoors and three gardeners. The number of gardeners seems rather low for such a large garden, but perhaps there were more of them who lived nearby and so were not recorded as part of the Hussey household. More research still needs to be done on this aspect of Scotney’s history. In the 1980s Mrs Betty Hussey had a husband and wife handyman and housekeeper living in.

  6. josie Says:

    This place really is amazing. such a great job has been done within the house to show life as it was. You can feel such happiness. I really get the sense of feeling that Betty is smiling down, so happy. You even found her wedding dress, which I am sure would have been their fondest memories. I very much look forward to returning again some day. The whole setting is so magical.

  7. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Josie, I am glad you found this post. According tho those who visited in Christopher and Betty Hussey’s time it was indeed a welcoming place. Have you seen my subsequent posts about Scotney? You can find them by clicking on ‘Scotney Castle’ under the ‘Categories’ on the main blog page.

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