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Please check with garden owners or their website to confirm current dates open
(2010 dates) 1st Apr - 30th Sept; daily; 10am - 6pm (closes 4pm Sat)
1st - 1st Nov; Wed-Sun; 10am - 4pm
2nd Nov - 28th Feb; Closed
1st -31st Mar; Wed-Sun; 10am - 4pm
Closed when Lord Warden in residence 9th -10th July and to 1pm on 11th July
May - Sept
Formal gardens and Queen Mother's Garden.
(2010 prices) Adult £7; Concession £6; Child £3.50; Family ticket £17.50 Group discount of 15% for 11+ people
Audio tours and Guided tours.
Home of Lord Warden of Cinque Ports. William Pitt and Duke of Wellington Museums.
Magnolia House, Canterbury Harbourside B&B, Folkestone
Sandgate Hotel Restaurant, Folkestone
Griffins Head, Chillenden
Dover Castle Dover Down House, Kent Osborne House, IOW
The gardens, alike to the castle, have seen much development since the most influential work of William Pitt the Younger (Lord Warden from 1792-1806) and his niece, Lady Hester Stanhope. Their horticultural prowess is visible in The Oval Lawn and The Glen. In the latter, visitors will soon be able to wander amongst the trees and peer into the fern clad hollows which Lady Stanhope designed.
This informality is balanced by The Terraces, designed by William Masters in 1866. Beyond are both meadows and woodland walkways. Leading back towards the castle, itself an enthralling visit, are both The Broad Walk, lined with a double herbaceous border, and The Holm Oak Avenue- a feature added for Lord Granville (Lord Warden from 1865- 1891).
The most recent addition to the gardens is the Queen Mother's Garden. Designed by Penelope Hobhouse to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's ninety-fifth birthday, this garden also pays homage to the Queen Mother's role as Warden of the Cinque Ports, and, as such, of Walmer Castle. It seems fitting that her enthusiasm for Walmer was shared by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who graced the Duke of Wellington with their presence for an entire month.
The castle was built in 1539 as one of the Cinque Ports, which Henry VIII intended as protection against Spanish and French invasion following his break with the Roman Catholic Church, but its defences have never, in fact, been put to the test. It does, however, serve as the official residence of the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports, a title that originally involved the control of the five most important medieval ports on the south coast. As a result of this martial role, the gardens were overlooked until Earl Granville transformed Walmer Castle, greatly improving the grounds at the same time. His ideals, coupled with those of Pitt and Stanhope, were pivotal in the development of the gardens. The features they created, and the now bloom-filled moat, reflect Walmer's newest role as a historic but also beautiful monument.