Thursday 9 February 2012


This is a place that is very dear to my heart, one of the last times I remember spending with my lovely Nana who took (at the time, this was more like dragged) me to this ravishing house. She loved places with the sort of serenely majestic architecture you'll find here, all cobbles, corbels, soaring beams and oaken panelling. But upon returning to it, I find something new: that little whisper of a rock and roll spirit. It's there in the 14th Century Baron's hall, which speaks of groaning feasts, dancing and merriment. Again, in the bowers of the formal gardens where one imagines naughty encounters to have happened in bygone chivalric ages. You can almost hear the clank of spurs, or the everyday rustle of women's skirts as they trailed across the floor (and not just on their wedding day, as now). The fire pit and sinking, deep sapphire and crimson colours of the tapestries, lead-trimmed glass and decadent faded grandeur certainly help.
A Knight's Tale: the Baron's Hall in all its finery.

Nestled in the heart of the Garden of England, Penshurst Place is set among the undulating fields of Tonbridge Wells and is the family seat of Viscount De L'isle. Local lore has it that the figures perched under the eaves of the Baron's hall were the peasants and yeomen who worked the Penshurst fields, and they make for a witty talking point when enjoying a long, lazy wedding breakfast here.
Licensed for civil ceremonies, the catering is ably provided by Leiths, Whilst Penshurst is a venue for all seasons - when paired with heated marquees in the fragrant herb and evergreen bordered lawns in deep midwinter - to me it calls for goblets of wine and spitroasts, but tempered with loose country flowers and a knock-out Vivienne Westwood gown...
Vivienne Westwood 'Carrie' dress: big swoon.

Penshurst Place Near Tonbridge, Kent TN11 8DG.
Tel: 01892 870307

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