When I first moved to Tunbridge Wells, Penshurst Place and Gardens was one of the first places I visited when friends and family came to stay. Over the past 8 years, we have returned again and again, whether it’s been showing our friends around the stunning grounds, having afternoon tea in the restaurant and a mooch around the 14th-century house with my Mum or in more recent times, taking the children there to burn some energy at the Adventure Playground.

We visited Penshurst Place with the boys (1 and 4 years old) on Sunday and here’s what I thought…..

The gates to the Gardens open at 10.30am on Sundays, so after an early start thanks to my youngest son, we went to The Porcupine Pantry beforehand for something sweet!

There’s usually a fabulous selection of cakes and treats as well as good coffee and some savoury food too. The café is at the entrance to Penshurst Place and has plenty of outdoor seating for when the weather is good, as well as a bright and spacious indoor seating section.

My husband and I decided to split a tasty slice of Victoria Sponge while the boys shared an enormous flapjack – both of which went down well!

The House and the Toy Museum open at noon on a Sunday, so our first port of call was the Adventure Playground which is close to the entrance.

This is no ordinary playground - set amongst rolling fields, the Adventure Park stretches across a gorgeous grassy area with the central play equipment and assault course for the older ones towards the back.

There’s an area for the tots at the front near the kiosk, which sells ice-cream, hot drinks and snacks directly from The Porcupine Pantry too.

The boys adore the basket swings there and much of our time in the playground was spent pushing them back and forth.

They also enjoyed the central tunnel which leads to a long steep slide, though if you are launching your little one down it, you might want to put him or her on their tummy (note to self for next time)!

We took a picnic lunch with us and ate it on the grass overlooking the mini assault course before heading off to do the woodland trail.

Clare and her family enjoying a picnic at Penshurst Place

The trail takes visitors up to the Maize Maze which is in full swing at the time of writing this.

Despite the constant complaining from my four year old that he was ‘too tired to walk,’ we made it to the maze (it only takes about ten minutes) and took up the challenge to find 8 dandelion clocks scattered throughout.

We did the mini maze which takes around 15 minutes to complete while the larger maze can take up to 40 minutes.

Armed with a flag in case we needed to be rescued, along with a map and an activity card, we weaved our way around the maze.

Fun in the Maize Maze at Penshurst Place

We took the buggy with us throughout and after completing our mission (and being presented with an all-important sticker at the end), we made our way back through the woodland trail, past the playground and through to the gorgeous gardens which make Penshurst Place so special.

Stopping to make some wishes at the well in the central area (apparently Harry would like a new transformer!), we then visited The Old Coach House to check out the craft station. Harry was able to make a lovely lavender bag for me to put in my drawer and a ‘Mr Potato Head’ creature which should start growing grass out of it soon.

Making a lavender bag for Mum

There were other activities on offer as well, all of which are included in the ticket price on ‘Summer Sundays’.

Next on our list was the Toy Museum - hosting a range of much loved toys from years gone by, it took us about 10 minutes to walk around. Harry was fascinated by the toy soldiers and miniature houses on display!

With two tired boys on our hands by this stage, we did a whistle-stop tour around the house. It’s beautifully maintained and it is wonderful to be able to step back in time and see such a stunning estate set up as it was so many years ago.

There’ so much to love about this perfect place. I took out annual membership while we were there, so I have a feeling we will be visiting again very soon!


With many thanks to Clare Lush for this week's VisitTunbridgeWells Blog and photography.

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Penshurst Place and Gardens
Historic House / Palace
Photography by Peter Smith - Penshurst Place and Gardens South view of the house

Set in the beautiful Weald of Kent, Penshurst Place & Gardens and the surrounding estate have stood on the banks of the river Medway since the 14th century, when the awe-inspiring medieval Baron’s Hall was built as a country retreat for the Lord Mayor of London, Sir John De Pulteney.

Summer Sundays at Penshurst Place & Gardens
Participatory Event
Summer Sundays at Penshurst Place & Gardens

Discover the brand new Falconry Show for Summer Sundays 2018 at Penshurst Place. The Hawking Centre demonstrate how different animals interact to hone in on their prey! We'll also be welcoming back Aardvark Productions for new garden pantos and offering our popular children's crafts.

Maize Maze Challenge at Penshurst Place & Gardens
Participatory Event
Maize Maze Challenge at Penshurst Place & Gardens

Back by popular demand, the Maize Maze this year features some new twists and turns, so if you think you cracked it last year, why not come back again and see if you can beat your time and find all the hidden checkpoints?

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