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National Trust Images/John Miller

The Seven Wonders of the Weald….

3 October 2018 | Emily May

You may have heard of the seven wonders of the world, but what about the seven wonders of the WEALD? Located across the county of Kent, this septet of stunning locations is hosting some intriguing autumnal activities this month, some of which will help you get in the mood for Halloween!

If any of these take your fancy, you can even bag yourself a Seven Wonders of the Weald Annual Pass, which will get you one free admission to each attraction, valid for a year, for just £30. Now that's much cheaper than visiting the Seven Wonders of the World!

Visit Knole at night for a ghoulish Gatehouse Tower tour…
Situated in Knole Park (Kent’s last remaining deer park), Knole is a beautiful country house that was (and is) the family home of the Sackville family. It was even the birthplace of one of the most renowned members of the family, Vita Sackville-West, the writer who was also the one-time lover of Virginia Woolf. Whilst you can normally visit to see the house filled with 17th century tapestries and paintings by artists such as Reynolds and Gainsborough in the daytime, on 26 October Knole is opening after hours to give visitors a special tour of the atmospheric Gatehouse Tower, and an insight into the life of former resident Eddy Sackville-West. Stunning starlit views are to be had once you’ve climbed to the top, as well as warming hot chocolates and marshmallows to reward you for your climb!

Image Credit: Martin Stitchener via Facebook
 
Knole Park is located in Sevenoaks, Kent, TN15 0RP . Their Gatehouse Tower tour will take place on 26 October between 17:30 and 19:45. Booking is essential.
 
Go for a terrifying train ride on the Kent and East Sussex Railway
We love a steam train ride at the best of times, but let’s face it, if we have to choo-choo-choose between a normal journey and a HALLOWEEN THEMED locomotive, we’re going to pick the latter. It’s lucky therefore that the Kent and East Sussex Railway are including free festive activities in their ticket prices on 23 and 25 October, so young passengers (who are encouraged to dress ready for spellbinding adventures) can engage in creepy crafts on a train from Tenterden to Bodiam, and view a “Bugs and Beasts” show upon their arrival. Or, if you prefer, why not hop aboard the Fright Night Express on 26 October, where, upon arriving at the station in your frightening finery, you will be able to enjoy pumpkin carving, face painting, photo-booth fun, fire breathers, and the blood curdling beats of Drumskullz. You’ll then head off for a terrifying train ride with an on board magician, and finish up the evening with a captivating firework display at Northiam Station. 

Image Credit: Kent and East Sussex Railway via their website
 
The Kent and East Sussex Railway is located at Tenterden Town Station, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent TN30 6HE. Their Fright Night Express is taking place on 26 October, booking is required.
 
 
Hear some spine-chilling stories at Scotney Castle
Are you a fan of 14th Century moated castles AND 19th Century country houses? Then Scotney Castle is the place for you, as both are situated in its estate of expansive parkland and woodland! With this multifaceted history spanning many centuries, it’s not surprising that there are many stories to be told at Scotney, and that the spirits of the past still haunt its grounds. So, if you see yourself as a veritable ghost detective, head over between 20-28 October to take part in their Children of Scotney Halloween Trail, which you can follow around the garden to learn more about the mysterious paranormal activity at the house, and be in with the chance of winning a prize!

Image Credit: Antony Scott via Flickr
 
Scotney Castle is located at Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN. The Children of Scotney Halloween Trail will take place between 20-28 October, booking is not required. Admission applies.
 
Do good and feel good at Biddenden Vineyards
Originally a 40-acre orchard, Biddenden Vineyards became Kent’s first commercial wine producer after the family decided to diversify from apples in the late 1960s, and whilst they are well known for their award winning whites, rosés, reds and sparklings, they do a lot more than that. Every Saturday this October you can embark on one of their charity tours. The hour-long tours cost just £1 per person for a visit to the vines and the winery, seeing every part of the wine-making process, and end with tastings at the vineyard shop - yum! Visitors will get a thorough introduction to the vineyards, and all funds raised will be donated to local charity Dandelion Time, meaning you can have a great time while also doing some real good. Cheers to that!

Image Credit: Biddenden Vineyards via their website
 
Biddenden Vineyards are located at Gribble Bridge Lane, Biddenden, Kent, TN27 8DF.
Biddenden's Charity Tours take place on Saturdays, as well as Wednesdays from June to September.
 Booking is required.
 
Enjoy an autumn stroll at Hole Park Gardens
Kent’s Hole Park Gardens are pretty stunning all year round, but we’re particularly excited about seeing the trees transformed with rusty autumn leaves, and the late flowering agapanthuses which are unique to Hole Park. Head over on Wednesdays and Thursdays until the end of October (or on Sundays on 7, 14, 21 and 28) to enjoy a bracing stroll around one of their charming walking routes, such as the circular walk, which takes in a carved wooden sculpture of a bear family climbing to reach a honey pot (is that you Pooh?), and a renovated ice house from 1740. After your autumnal exercise, you’ll definitely be deserving of a café stop at the coach house tea room, which will be serving up lunches, afternoon tea, and homemade cakes.

Image Credit: Hole Park
 
Hole Park is situated 4 miles west of Tenterden on the B2086 between Rolvenden and Cranbrook. It is open between 11am and 6pm every Wednesday and Thursday until the end of October, as well as additional Sundays 7, 14, 21 and 28 October.
 
Enrol in Wizard School at Chiddingstone Castle
You may not have received your letter from Hogwarts, but that doesn’t mean you have to content yourself with being a muggle! Head to Chiddingstone Castle, a remodelled Tudor property in West Kent filled with the collections of Denys Eyre Bower, for their School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 25-27 October. 6-10 year olds will be recruited to help the Headmaster on a magical mission… we’re hoping Albus Dumbledore’s going to show his face! Activities will include flying lessons (get your Nimbus 2000 at the ready), the Dark Arts and crafts, potion making and even the chance for best dressed and excerption students to win awards! So get practicing to be in with a chance of coming top of the class, and remember: it’s le-vi-O-sa, not leviosar.

Image Credit: Chiddingstone Castle via their website
 
Chiddingstone Castle is located at Hill Hoath Road, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7AD. Their School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will run from 25-27 October. 

So, ready to discover these wonder-worthy sites? To make your stay easier, why not try out these ideas of where to stay while you're there...

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