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