Moths of Scotney Castle Estate

Special thanks to Charles Waters for writing this blog and to the work of him and Alison Playle who have undertaken the moth monitoring in 2017. Great effort.

“In April 2017 I was asked to help with identifying moth species attracted to regular moth traps set up in the North Yard. This evolved into a plan to study the moth species found in the varying habitats around the estate.


Chocolate-tip – trapped 22nd April. This striking moth with furry legs camouflages itself as a piece of broken stick.

Starting in April, we started roughly fortnightly trapping sessions in order to look at the moth diversity as moth species fly at different times as the year progresses. There are a number of good habitats at Scotney ideal for moths – woods with a mix of mainly deciduous but some coniferous trees, water courses with their attendant vegetation and meadows.  The large variety of tree species and wild plants, we reasoned, should produce a good variety of moth species.

Now that the year has come to an end and moths have largely ceased flying, I can report that we were right – and look forward to continuing the work in 2018.

In just the first (nearly) full year we identified 313 species and trapped nearly 2,850 moths in the yard alone. Looking at other records spread over the last few years 372 species have been recorded from various places around the estate – and I think that number will grow considerably as we continue.

We are using a Robinson trap with a 125 watt Mercury vapour (MV) lamp. This attracts the vast majority of moth species, and this year even one butterfly (a Purple Hairstreak). Other insects are also drawn to the trap and we have to fight our way through them to get at the moths – this includes wasps, sexton beetles, caddisflies and from late summer into late autumn – hornets.

Blastobasis vittata

Blastobasis vittata, trapped 14th July – first recorded in UK in 2008, and is a native of Madeira.

The commonest moth trapped in the North Yard in 2017 was the Large Yellow Underwing (favourite food of various bat species), with Britain’s largest ‘micro’ moth the Mother of Pearl in second place.

We were also pleased to find some rarities and recent colonisers to the UK, including Kent Tubic (Bisigna procerella), Blastobasis vittata (still so unusual that nobody has come up with a common name yet). Other scarcities included the Olive Crescent moth.

Charles Waters”

Photos by Alison Playle and Charles Waters.

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Storm Doris takes down a veteran Beech tree

Storm Doris hit the UK on 23 Feb 2017 with winds gusting at 95mph in some places. The whole of Scotney Castle Gardens and Estate had to be closed for the day due to the potential risk to people and property from trees.

Fortunately there was very little damage that took place. A Holm by the carpark lost a limb and minor twigs fell from many trees. However, there was one tree in the middle of the woodlands that did suffer a complete capitulation.

A Beech tree (Fagus slyvatica) shed all of its limbs apart from one. The tree was around 250 years old, a guess from the size of the main stem, the rings couldn’t be counted to give a more accurate estimate as the stem was rotten. These photos explain more:


We shall for evermore refer to this Beech as the Elephant Beech! Apart from a few of the limbs ‘made safe’ we will leave the timber to rot down naturally and be a source of food and habitat for many species of insect.

The tree can be seen just off the red ‘Woodland Trail’, which is one of four waymarked paths across the estate. If you wanted to be led on a guided walk to see the tree then just ask one of the Estate Guides to take you there when on a walk. Walks happen daily from March to October, ask at Visitor Reception for more details.

Thanks for reading. Mark, Ranger.

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Dragonflies of Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle estate has 24 different species of dragonflies and damselflies, which includes just about every species that is possible according to our habitat. The moat in the garden, the fast moving Bewl river, the slow moving  Sweetbourne stream, various ponds, scrapes and wet areas on the estate provide a range of breeding options specific to differing dragon and damselflies. Nymphs live in water for up to three years and are therefore a good indicator of water quality. Ranger staff and volunteers have been monitoring our dragonflies for many years and are proud that we have one of the best sites in the SE of England for them. Although it is December at the moment, visit in June, July or August and be amazed by their aerodynamic hunting and courtship displays in the garden and estate.

Below is a photo of all of our Damsel and Dragonflies known at Scotney Castle. All photographs by Alison Playle.

Common Species

These are species that can be commonly found in suitable habitats around the country. Obviously they need water for breeding and other habitat for hunting smaller insects which is their prey but they can be found in a variety of locations.

Uncommon Species

These species are a little bit more specialist in their requirements and are therefore less able to breed in any habitat. For example the Small Red eyed prefers ponds with floating vegetation and the warmer climate of southern England.

Sussex/Kent rarities

These dragonflies need very specific habitat requirements and are therefore rare due to a lack of correctly managed or available ponds. The Scarce Chaser female for example needs slow flowing open water to lay eggs in and the adults require a certain amount of shrub or tree cover. The Downy Emerald requires water to be near deciduous woodland, emergent vegetation and a thick leaf litter layer on the floor of the pond.

If you have been counting the photos you will see that we are two short of the 24 species we have, we are currently missing photos of Hairy Dragonfly and the Black-tailed Skimmer.

For more information on the dragonflies shown here the the best place to visit is

Thanks for reading.

Mark Musgrave, Ranger, Scotney Castle.

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In the Deep Midwinter

Winter gives the House team here at Scotney the opportunity to don our fleeces, scale our tallest ladders and give upstairs a thorough clean and a rest! While the exhibition continues downstairs, the bedrooms and bathrooms go through a traditional putting-to-bed routine, giving the objects normally on display a breather. Through this post I will share with you the reasons why rooms need a rest and how we help this to happen.

One of the main reasons we allow upstairs to rest during the winter months is due to light. Light damage is one of our biggest challenges here at Scotney and so to be able to have the shutters closed for a few months of the year really helps to preserve the interiors for the future.

The Hussey Bedroom is the room most susceptible to light damage upstairs due its position facing south and the large double aspect windows. Keeping the room in the dark limits the light damage done throughout the year, therefore meaning it will survive for longer.

When a house is open to visitors, general wear and tear is also a key factor of deterioration. However, it is not just visitors that can cause wear and tear to items. In the Drawing Room the fragile carpet bears the weight of the chairs, sofa and desk during the peak months. Although people don’t walk on the carpet there is still movement around the house which causes the furniture and therefore the carpet to move and ruck up which can cause stress and pressure on the weak textile. The winter months allow us to remove that weight and clean and straighten the carpet, allowing the carpet to relax.

Once cleaned the furniture, ornaments and carpet all get protected from dust by covering them with dust covers and tissue paper. This means that when upstairs reopens the items don’t need to be cleaned again straight away; too much cleaning can cause damage to items too!

The deep clean process allows a thorough check to be taken place of all items, looking out for new damage, pests and any potential problems. Rooms are cleaned from top to bottom, ceilings and light fittings to carpets and under the beds. We do deep cleans throughout the year for all rooms, and the winter is the ideal time to do the upstairs.

Here are more photo of the rooms before and after their winter transformations:

The Bamboo Bedroom

Green Bedroom

Come February all the covers will be removed and the rooms once again presented as they were left to the National Trust. Winter is a vital time for the house at Scotney and the work is a very important in preserving the objects for the future for everyone to enjoy.

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Personal Paintings of the Picturesque

Drawing and painting has long been known to be a pastime of the Hussey family. Paintings by Henrietta-Sarah Windsor-Clive (wife of Edward Hussey III who had the New House built) can be seen hung around the house and sketchbooks by Christopher Hussey (Henrietta-Sarah’s grandson and the last to inherit the estate) are on display in the Study, however work has only recently come to light by other members of the family.

In a new display in the Dining Room, I will be highlighting the talents of Christopher’s parents and putting some of their work on show for the first time.


Major William Clive Hussey

Major William Clive Hussey (1858-1929) was the father of Christopher and the younger brother of Edward Windsor Hussey who inherited the Scotney Estate from their father Edward Hussey III. William grew up at Scotney with his brothers and sisters and would have seen his mother’s (Henrietta-Sarah) paintings. In 1898 William retired from his career in the army, and married. He then began work in the Office of Works and for 20 years was personally in charge of the Royal Parks in London. William was made C.V.O in 1923 and went on to become a member of the Westminster City council.

Much of Williams’ artwork is highly detailed paintings or drawings, the detail and style is very reminiscent of his mothers work.


Landscape by William

Mary Ann Hussey (nee Herbert, 1864-1942) was the daughter of the Very Reverend Honourable George Herbert, Dean of Hereford and Elizabeth Beatrice Sykes and married Major William Clive Hussey in 1898. The family lived in London where Mary and Williams two children, Christopher and Barbara, grew up. From the dates alongside the paintings in Mary’s sketchbooks, it seems she was painting before she married William. It is likely that she was encouraged to paint from a young age as it was seen as a desirable skill for young women to have.


Mary Ann Hussey (nee Herbert)

The paintings by Mary, although skilled, are much more naïve in their style and very different to the artwork by other members of the family.

Earlier this year filming took place in the garden for an episode of the painting competition Landscape Artist of the Year. Over 50 artists took part producing paintings in a range of styles and depicting various views of Scotney. Look out for the programme on Sky Arts which will be airing in the near future or why not try your hand at painting on the estate and follow in the footsteps of the Hussey family and artists such as John Piper!

If you would like to know more about the Hussey family, an exhibition this winter will explore their story and the continuing evolution of Scotney. Visit our website for more information:

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Tree climbing

This Sunday 17th July you can do something amazing at Scotney Castle…

There is a unique opportunity to get into the canopy of one of our largest and oldest Oak trees with the help of The Great BIG tree Climbing Company…

“Two highly skilled and friendly instructors can help all ages reach new heights. They will teach you how to enter a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners, whilst being securely attached in a harness at all times. Once at the top of the tree you will gain an experience which can’t be found on the ground whilst hanging out in the canopy and if you’re feeling brave you could try some branch walking before returning safely to the ground. Each session is run for up to 8 people, creating a unique and intimate experience.”

Sound fun?

To book onto a session please visit this link:

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Another String to their Bow

With the Rio Olympics coming up I thought I’d take a closer look at some of the sports related items in the Scotney Castle Collection. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog may have read about the recent rediscovery of arrows and archery paraphernalia in the cupboard under the stairs. In light of this and other findings I am focusing my attention, and a new display in the Dining Room, on the ancient sport of archery and in particular a group called the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen.

Used by the Egyptians, Greeks and many other civilisations around the world, a bow and arrow was a powerful tool against your enemies on the battlefield but eventually became powerless against technological advancements and new weapons such as guns. Archery was retained as a sporting and hunting pastime, particularly by royalty and became a fashionable pastime for the wealthier members of society. Many clubs were set up in the late eighteenth century thanks to support from royal patrons[1].

The Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen was set up in 1785 and from 1786 met regularly at Dartford Heath where they had the use of a house known as Bowman’s Lodge[2]. The longbow was the bow of choice and the Prince of Wales, later George IV, was made patron in 1789. He donated many objects to be prizes for competitions and it is also noted that he laid out the rules on the uniform of the Society members. Edward Hussey (who bought Scotney Castle in 1778) joined the Society on August 8th 1789.

The Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen took their sport very seriously and the society had their own printed rule book; we are fortunate to have a copy in our collection. This small but beautiful book was printed in 1789 and lays out the rules and regulations of the society such as the uniform expected to be purchased and worn by members and the order of shooting at a meet.

This book was owned by Edward Hussey who labelled the book ‘Edw: Hussey 1790’. He made many other annotations in the book so must have taken great interest in the society. At the back of the book there is a handwritten list of members and when they joined the society.

Along with the Society rule book we also have a beautiful silver horn in a red leather case. The engraving on the horn suggests it was given to the society as a prize by ‘His Royal Highness George Prince of Wales’ and was won by Edward Hussey in August 1794. With the horn in the leather case there are two silver and green tassels (the society colours) that could be hung from the horn.

Unfortunately we do not know of any photographs here at Scotney that show the family taking part in archery or of Edward Hussey participating at a Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen meet. There is, however, an image of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) posing in his Royal Kentish Bowmen uniform in the Royal Collection[3]. The portrait clearly shows the green uniform with silver buttons and plumed hat to the side along with a longbow and arrow. In the background you can see a group of figures with bows near a target, probably at Dartford Heath.

Here at Scotney Castle there is a cupboard in the Hall of the house known as the Ascham cupboard which houses a large collection of archery paraphernalia; Ascham cupboards are named after Roger Ascham who was a Tudor Scholar with a particular interest in Archery[4]. The Ascham cupboard here at Scotney is believed to have come from the lodge of the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen and appears to have been specifically made for the use of storing archery equipment.


Ascham Cupboard

Within the Ascham cupboard there is a set of sixty-one arrows set into a specifically designed section. These arrows have green and yellow coloured bands on the shaft and it is possible that this set of arrows was used in the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen meets and competitions by Edward Hussey (they appear to match the arrow depicted in the portrait of the Prince of Wales).

Along with the longbows and arrows in the cupboard there are two arrow tubes for transporting and storing arrows. There is one larger black tube and one green tube with a red shoulder strap.

There are many other items relating to the hobby of Archery within the Hussey family and regarding the Society of Royal Kentish Bowmen. I hope this has given you a glimpse into the depth of the collection here at Scotney Castle and we will continue to keep you posted on the latest rediscoveries and research.






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