Days Out in the South East: Walmer Castle & Gardens

Last week we visited Walmer castle and gardens, and it was a lovely afternoon out, made even better by the gloriously sunny weather. This was out first visit there,  and I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard more about Walmer castle before, considering what an interesting as well as beautiful place this is to visit!

We had a lovely day out visiting #Walmer Castle and Gardens in Kent. It’s an English Heritage property, great for learning about #history from Henry VIII to World War II, via the Duke of Wellington and his boots! The gardens are beautiful and a great source of #sensory stimulation. #homeeducation #familydaysout #visitkent

A Brief History of Walmer Castle

Walmer Castle is originally an artillery fort, built 1539-40. At the time, Henry VIII was strengthening the country’s defences against a possible threats from Spain, and as part of that, several forts were erected along the south east coast of England.

In the early 18th Century, when it no longer served its military purpose, Walmer castle became the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. To better serve its new residential role, changes were made both to the building and the gardens throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries, as well as in the early 20th Century.

B8645BE0-B33F-417F-90AB-D13C099CF0CCDuring all those years, until the breakout of World War II, Walmer functioned as a family home for the Lord Wardens. One of the most notable of them was the Duke of Wellington, who lived there from 1829 and died at Walmer in 1852. There is a collection of items related to the Duke of Wellington on display in the castle, including the chair in which he passed away, and one of the original pairs of Wellington boots (‘wellies’ to you and me, although his old pair looks a bit fancier than the ones I’ve been used to, so far).

Our Journey to Walmer Castle

We took the scenic route along the coast via Camber and Dungeness, stopping for chips in Lydd-on-Sea, continuing up the coast through Dymchurch, Hythe, Folkstone and Dover.

Penguin really likes travelling through Dover! There’s a tunnel on the way there which he loves, and then the views of the sea and the cliffs, all the ships, and the bridge at the end which is like a big curve. Definitely one of his favourite routes at the moment.

Before we went out, I showed him a couple of videos (which we’d taken on a previous occassion) of going through that tunnel. He didn’t seem super impressed, but perhaps seeing the videos still contributed to us getting out the door without any major hesitation? Penguin has almost always been happy to get outside, but lately he’s become more attached to his home comforts, and the other day he absolutely refused to go out.

E494B646-AAC3-4FCB-98C6-296F3C1F5224I know that some parents live with this issue all the time, and I’m not sure how I’d cope if we’d end up stuck indoors almost permanently. I don’t think it’s about not enjoying being out and about, but rather the transition of going out, which Penguin is struggling somewhat with at the moment. He’s been so (relatively) flexible for most of his life, that we’ve really not needed to prepare him as thouroughly as many other parents of autistic children often do, for going out. Perhaps it’s tween hormones putting him more ‘on edge’ now??

Either way, I’m so delighted that we got out yesterday and had a great long afternoon out, and he was happy with it. He was also very happy to get home at the end of it, which in a way isn’t a bad thing. As long as we can get out again another day (fingers crossed)!

Our Experience of Walmer Castle & Gardens

Both the castle and the gardens were really lovely. It’s not a huge place, but a nice size and with quite a few different areas to explore:

AFE283FA-2F3A-4AC7-8A0F-27D0B0DDE5CDWe started off by checking out the cellars, and we were so happy that Penguin went down the cellar stairs without much hesitation at all. He can sometimes be very uncomfortable about going down steep stairs, which has caused us difficulties in other places before. I think it helped that the stairs here were straight and well lit, so he could see quite clearly where they were leading to, rather than stepping down into a dark and mysterious hole, as can be the experience in some places.46ADABCD-45C9-43CB-ABFE-CC6392CBB15E

After exploring the cellars, we went out into the gardens. We started off by walking through the Queen Mother’s Garden, followed by a short woodland walk and then through the other garden areas, including the boardwalk garden, the kitchen garden and the garden in the (former) moat.

0336F799-3882-4CE3-AD5F-04796DA5F067EDD5B2EF-4DDC-4D73-B2A0-4FFB4E2D6AD87FADE56F-78E0-4F98-8563-BECE0F3870B3After having explored the castle gardens for a good while, we went inside for a quick look at the Wellington boots and a few other items, and then to finish off we went up onto the top of the castle where there were canons pointing out to sea.

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Exploring Walmer castle and gardens was very much a multisensory experience of colours, sounds, scents and textures, as well as moving through the grounds (which involves the proprioceptive and vestibular senses).

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If you know the name of this wonderfully fragrant plant, please let us know!

The most memorable scents on this occassion, as I experienced it, was that of the fresh soil being added to the broadwalk garden, and the honey-scented white flowers on the bushes (which I don’t know the name of) in the Queen Mother’s garden. Penguin was, as he often is, particularly drawn to the tactile qualities of the dense hedges. Colourwise, there will naturally be an increasing amount coming through as spring progresses, but there were already a few colourful flowers there, as well as many different shades of leaves and grasses, and wonderful shadowplay in the low afternoon sunlight.

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I look forward to revisiting Walmer castle and gardens, to see more of the interiors and to experience the changes of the seasons there. Do you think it seems like somewhere you might enjoy visiting, too? Or perhaps you’ve already been? Please feel free to share with us below in the comments below!

Some of the information in this post is based on what I’ve read on the English Heritage website, and that’s an excellent place to go if you wish to know more, and to plan your visit.

For more inspiration on days out, particularly in Kent and Sussex, please take a look at our other posts in this category, HERE, and it would be lovely to have you joining us on social media too:

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Thank you for reading! x

Linking up with:

Potty Adventures
Country Kids linky
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

JakiJellz

 


44 thoughts on “Days Out in the South East: Walmer Castle & Gardens

  1. It’s a fascinating place to explore isn’t it. We visited there and Deal on the same day – very different. My son is nine, loves the outdoors but sometimes he’s an absolute nightmare to get out of the house too #countrykids

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    1. Thank you, it’s good to hear that we’re not alone in sometimes having these struggles. I’m glad to hear that you too found Walmer a fascinating place! We haven’t been to Deal castle yet, though we’ve seen it from the outside as we’ve driven past there. Perhaps next time we go up there we could try to combine both places, as you did x

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  2. Wow, this place looks fantastic! The pictures you’ve taken are beautiful, I had never heard of this place before and I definitely would visit if I head to that region. I like how you also relate to the challenges around autism too. X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Being in the States, I get a spark of jealousy and seeing these beautiful sights. I often dream of having a wonderful garden, but life gets in the way. I particularly love how you used videos and are seeing the value of preparing Penguin as needed. I often counsel parents about the use of video or social stories as a way of helping set up kids for success. You make a great point about pre-teen issues too- we all have changes- and whether its hormones, or energy levels, or anxiety, we all have shifts in our lives and need to be cognizant of how they affect our interactions.

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  4. I’d not heard of Walmer Castle before but it does sound like an interesting place to visit. The gardens are beautiful. How lovely to take the scenic route to get there – glad Penguin enjoyed the journey and sounds like you had a lovely day out too. Thanks for sharing with #CountryKids

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  5. What a majestic looking castle and the grounds look beautiful. We have a few places we are planning on visiting with our English Heritage membership.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with #MMBC. Have a lovely weekend. x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t heard of Walmer Castle, but it looks stunning!!! I love visiting places like this so I’ll show it to Hubby for a weekend trip!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

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    1. Thank you! It’s quite a small place but with many different areas to explore. And if the weather is nice, there’s a lovely coastline to walk along just across the road from it, too. The town of Walmer is next to Deal, which also has a historical castle (which we haven’t visitied yet), and it’s only around the corner from Dover, where there’s obviously a fab castle too. So it could make for a busy and exciting weekend trip 🙂👍xx

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  7. This sounds and looks fantastic! My hubby and I are English Heritage members so I think we will stop by the next time we are down south. Isn’t it amazing imagining what life must have been like for the people who lived there, both up and downstairs! I often wonder how different the lives of all those people were. I hated history as a child but in my thirties I’ve developed a real thirst for it and visiting places like this really helps! Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS

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    1. That’s great to hear, and yes you’re absolutely right, it’s fascinating to think about what life was like, and old buildings like these can really make history feel more “alive”.
      Walmer was lovely, it’s relatively small but still offers a lot I think. And if you haven’t been to Dover Castle, that’s only around the corner from there (and Deal Castle is even closer, but much smaller than Dover). And they’re all English Heritage places 🙂 xx

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  8. One of the best things about this linky is that I get to discover lots of interesting new places. Walmer Castle sounds great, I’m a bit of a history geek so right up my street. I love your photos and your use of all the senses in your writing makes it really interesting to see things with a different perspective. Thanks so much for linking up #AdventureCalling

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