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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Are you a fan of fans?

Packed away in the attics of Scotney Castle is a treasure trove of colourful fans. The collection consists of an eclectic mix of folding fans, some with finely carved ivory handles, whilst others depict Romantic scenes from popular literature of the time. They are rich in symbolism and are of great historical significance.IMG_3886

Large feather fan from Scotney Castle’s ‘hidden collection’

Japan and China are often credited with the creation of the folding fan. One historian claims that ‘[t]he earliest representation of the folding fan—the fan proper—is found in the hands of the Japanese god of happiness’.[1] In Japan, many believe that the structure of the fan was based on the construction of a bat’s wings. In China, the folding fan is thought to have derived from observing women fanning their faces with their hands to cool themselves.[2] Whatever the case, folding fans were introduced to Europe in the sixteenth-century via the Portuguese through their strong trade links with China.[3]

In Elizabethan times, fans were used as a symbol for exotic style and a representation of wealth. A list of presents presented to the queen includes a heavily embellished fan from the Countess of Bath:

‘By the Countesse of Bath, a fanne of swanne downe, with a maze of greene velvet, ymbrodered with seed pearles and a very small chayne of silver gilte, and in the middest a border on both sides of seed pearles, sparks of rubyes and emerods, and thereon a monster of gold, the head and breast mother-of-pearles; and a skarfe of white stitche cloth florished with Venis gold, silver, and carnacion silke.’[4]

The craftsmanship that went into making this particular fan, the rubies, pearls and emeralds hint at the value such items were given. Elizabeth I was often painted with fans, and although mostly feathered, she was also depicted with folding fans. For example, Marcus the Younger’s portrait of the Queen, painted in 1592, depicts Elizabeth in an immaculate white outfit, standing on a map or globe of the world, clutching a closed fan. Large pearls line the edging of the fan and a complex pattern painted on the fan’s leaves is suggested through a series of delicate brush marks. In an age where symbolism played a huge part in the presentation of oneself, the eye is drawn to the closed fan in this piece, suggesting a far-reaching and cultured queen, and by extension England.


Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561-1636), Queen Elizabeth I (‘The Ditchley portrait’), 1592 (95 x 60in)

The purpose and symbolism of fans has fluctuated over the centuries. Indeed, fans could be used as a form of art. The Impressionist Edgar Degas (1834-1917) decorated fans with the intention that they be mounted and displayed in rooms. Degas was inspired by the Japanese style and started painting silk fans in the 1870s.

[5] They had no ‘practical’ use and their design created an atmosphere of night-time at the theatre. The warmth of these creations, in particular Fan: Dancers and the Stage Scenery (1878-1880), alludes to the flirtatious nature of fans and the sensuous atmosphere it creates. Degas used his fan work as a means of experimenting with composition, colour and surface.[6] As a decorative object, fans were a unique way to explore materials and styles from a unique, artistic standpoint.


Chinese inspired fan from Scotney Castle’s ‘hidden collection’

Even before Degas’s experimentation in the late nineteenth century, French fans created in the reign of Louis XV (1710-1774), were exploring other decorative ideas. For example small hand-screens, created by famous French fan-makers of the time, made humorous animated fans that moved certain figures when a wire was pulled. One such creation shows a musician playing the cello vigorously whilst rolling his eyes and another has a danseuse doing the high-land fling.[7] It shows a progression from the fan’s initial formation as a means to cool oneself, to a more fashionable and decorative object. Of course, fans were still in use during this time for their original purpose, with the contemporary essayist Joseph Addison describing the sometimes humorous use of fans in an article published in The Spectator:

‘[T]he angry flutter, the modish flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, the amorous flutter… I have seen a fan so very angry that it would have been dangerous for the absent lover who provoked it to come within the wind of it’.[8]


Fan dating back to 1743 from Scotney Castle’s’hidden collection’

Fans could be used as a means of expressing oneself in an age where women were, to a large extent, seen and not heard.  Women’s fashion often determined the size and style of folding fans. At the start of the nineteenth century, the fashion for ‘simplicity’ meant as dresses got slimmer so too did its pockets.[9] Fans were adapted to fit the fashions of the time and were made smaller or larger accordingly. Fans by this period were primarily regarded as a fashion accessory and were made from delicate materials such as silk, ivory, sequins or tortoiseshell.793933

Ivory handled fan from Scotney Castle’s ‘hidden collection’

Fans could be used for a variety of reasons, for example fashionable, political or social, and could provide women with a communicative outlet otherwise denied to them. Scotney’s collection of fans most likely belongs to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where Romantic scenes were a common choice of decoration. They are a fascinating find and an important addition in piecing together Scotney’s social history. Come and see our display case, located in the Dining Room, to see first-hand a sample of our fan collection!

[1] L. Parr, ‘History of the Fan’, Victorian Magazine: Fashion and Accessories (2016)

[2] Ibid

[3] A. Geczy, Fashion and Orientalism: Dress, textiles and culture from the 17th century to the 21st century (London, 2013) p.52

[4] J. Nichols, New Year’s Gifts Presented to the Queen 1588-9  (New York, 1823) p.4


[6] M. Gerstein, ‘Degas’ Fans’, The Art Bulletin (March. 1982) p.105

[7] E. Barber, ‘Antique Fans’ Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum (Jul. 1905) p.50

[8] J. Addison, ‘The Exercise of the Fan’, The Spectator, no.102 (London, 1711)

[9] Some fans are even recorded as being no longer than the palm of a person’s palm.

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