Wine Wednesday at The Mount Vineyard in Shoreham

It’s English Wine week 25 May - 2nd June so Kent has a great deal to celebrate with its fabulous offering of home produced wines. Now winning international awards, Kent vineyards are being ranked as some of the very best in the world. What’s even better, they’re on our doorstep!

In celebration of English Wine Week, The Mount Vineyard is relaunching its ever popular Wine Wednesdays on 29th May!

Be treated to a tour of the vines with a glass of bubbles in hand, a further four wine tasting and a delectable cheese and charcuterie platter for £35/pp!

Whilst a wonderfully informative evening, this is a relaxed way to spend a few hours enjoying local produce with plenty of time to catch up with friends or family. 

And because the Mount is celebrating all things about English wine, they are giving one lucky guest joining them on 29th May a bottle of their limited edition white Pinot Noir (RRP £60/bottle). Book online to secure your place and like/share their social media giveaway post to be in with a chance of taking home this outstanding vintage! 

Wine Wednesdays run all summer from 29th May to 25th September. 

www.themountvineyard.co.uk/reservations

Blooming Marvellous at Hever!

Hever Castle’s tulips are impatient to be seen and admired. To help you see the very best of their fabulous displays, a dedicated page has been established so that visitors can see where the best of the blooms are on display.

The formal tulip festival, with garden tours (11.30 am each day with the head gardener) and associated activities, runs from 24 - 30 April. The castle will also be adorned with majestic floral displays by the in-house florist Pamela Brise.

But why not get a sneak tulip preview now and feel inspired by these gloriously colourful and surprisingly exotic bulbs?

Spring has sprung at Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Castle and its famous World Garden are now open for the 2019 season! This is a true harbinger of spring so make sure you get out this weekend to visit and savour one of our great Sevenoaks district gems.

The team of volunteers have been preparing new garden features for 2019, so visit soon to admire and be inspired. The Easter programme will be as egg-citing as ever so keep up to date with Lullingstone events via their website and Facebook page.

This season there’s also a great offer on a family passport. Why not sign up so Lullingstone will feel just like your very own garden?

Chiddingstone Literary Festival 2019

Chiddingstone Castle’s Literary Festival is now a firm and extremely welcome feature in Sevenoaks district’s annual calendar. This year’s Literary Festival will take place over four days across the early May Bank Holiday weekend from Saturday 4th - Tuesday 7th May.

This is “Chidd Lit’s” most ambitious programme yet, spilling over with riches and diversity and carefully curated to ensure there is something for everyone, of all ages and interests. Highlights for adults include Joanne Harris, Gogglebox’s Giles and Mary, Oz Clarke, Sir Anthony Seldon, Dr Giles Yeo, Sabrina Ghayour, Jackie Kay, Anna Pasternak, Tracy Borman, Giles Milton, John Crace and many more. There’s a Poetry Writing workshop with Emma Harding, Creative Writing and How to get Published workshops with Sarah Salway and Life Drawing with Eddie Armer.

The children’s programme includes bestselling authors A F Harrold, Emily Gravett and Guy Parker-Rees, a performance of The Little Mermaid from Pericles Theatre Company, children’s film animation workshops with Press Play Films, Wallace and Gromit clay modelling with Aardman Animations, screenings of the Wallace & Gromit films and Story Writing workshops with Storymakers.

Booking opens on March 1 and is available online.

Online booking support is available on T: 0800 033 7564. Special packages are available for multiple ticket purchases.

If you want to make a weekend of it, you can find a range of bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation to book at Simply Sevenoaks.

Tourism booms in Kent!

Kent’s tourism economy flourishes as visitor numbers rise to 65 million.

Kent’s visitor economy has increased 7% and topped £3.8 billion for the first time ever, after welcoming a record 65 million visitors in 2017.

Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent has revealed that 64,970,000 visitors came to The Garden of England in 2017, and the county remains the third most visited destination outside of London for foreign visitors.

Overseas overnight visits to the county increased by 4% with an 8% increase in the number of nights stayed, and a 10% increase in the resulting value.

Across the county, visitor spending figures in Kent continue to rise compared to 2015, with the highest ever numbers reported for spending in the county from both day and overnight visits.

Tourism jobs have also increased by 6.8% to 76,828, and now account for 11% of total employment across the county.

Chief executive of Visit Kent, Deirdre Wells OBE said: “Tourism is the UK’s fastest growing service sector and these figures demonstrate the contribution which our vital industry makes to the economy of Kent. With our stunning countryside, world-class heritage, and delicious locally sourced food and drink, it is no surprise that visitors’ numbers are increasing. The collective efforts of tourism businesses across the county have paid dividends and this partnership will be critical in ensuring that this growth continues during a challenging year ahead.”

Other district highlights included a 10.1% increase in the value of day trips in Tonbridge and Malling, and a 9% rise in the number of day trips to Sevenoaks. Since 2006, the value of Kent’s tourism industry has risen by 33%.

Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, said “The results from the 2017 survey commissioned by Visit Kent clearly show that the visitor economy is increasingly important to the county’s future prosperity”.

Deirdre added: “These figures demonstrate that, wherever you are based in Kent, tourism can bring growth, prosperity and jobs to your community. Our challenge going forward will be to turn more of our day visits into overnight stays and short breaks, bringing even further growth to the county.”

Simply Sevenoaks couldn’t agree more. So who’s up for the challenge in 2019??

Congratulations to The Bull at Wrotham

Warmest congratulations to SDAF member, The Bull Hotel at Wrotham on winning an AA Notable Wine List Award 2018 - 19.  This is one of only 5 awarded wine lists in Kent. The hotel also won Series 13 of the Channel 4 programme FOUR IN A BED.  What stars!

Things that go bump in the night . . . at Lullingstone Castle!

HALLOWEEN MAGIC - 28th October. 12 noon - 7pm

Lullingstone Castle celebrates Halloween magic on its last day of the season; pumpkin carving, spooky house and garden tours – perfect for all the family. Tom will give garden tours at 1pm and dusk tour at 5pm, learn about the origins of pumpkins, colours and varieties and children can spot the Halloween tricks in eerie torchlight! Fancy dress is welcome – let’s celebrate the end of our season in style! Additional £1 donation for the pumpkin carving.

Halloween Magic - 28th October. 12 noon - 7pm - £10 Adult/Children under 15 go FREE

PLEASE NOTE: event access only via Lullingstone Villa through the village (Shoreham Road entrance & car park closed for Halloween)

Feeling adventurous?

Can you imagine how it might feel to be an intrepid plant hunter?  Visit Lullingstone Castle for Plant Hunters' Weekend25th, 26th & 27th August, 11am – 5pm to find out.

Celebrating the lives of some of Britain’s most intrepid plant hunters, Tom and friends in Victorian dress will lead a guided tour of the World Garden at 1.30 and 3.30 pm - join at any time! Visitors are offered a unique glimpse into the past to experience an authentic plant hunter’s expedition camp, complete with plant presses, roaring fire, porters and canvas tents.

Medieval England comes to Hever!

The Knights of Royal England return to battle it out at the annual Hever Castle Jousting Tournament. Spectators will be treated to a thrilling show as the brave knights compete for points to find this season’s champion. Witness spectacular displays of action, stunts, falls and fights in an authentic arena complete with Royal Box.

A fantastically exciting spectacle so do book now

English Wine Week 26 May - 3 June

It's almost here - English Wine Week 2018.  What a great week to celebrate not only English wine but our great Kent wines! 

To celebrate why not visit a Sevenoaks district vineyard, The Mount Vineyard in Shoreham?  Savour a glass of wine in their tasting room, or combine it with a charcuterie or cheese platter or a stone baked pizza for that extra special treat.  Vineyard tours start this weekend too so have a peek at the 2018 harvest!

The highlight of the week is the Food fest, Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd June.  What a lot to celebrate in just one week but the celebration goes on as The Mount Vineyard is open for most weeks of the year.

Step back in time at Hever!

Celebrate half term week by stepping back into the Edwardian era at Hever Castle!  

Enjoy a traditional Punch and Judy show with a Tudor twist (look out for Henry VIII and his six wives!); learn about the study and collection of butterflies and moths from our resident lepidopterist; try your hand at traditional games including a coconut shy, tin-can alley, bean bag race, or croquet.

Meet Hever's very own suffragette who will be on hand to help children colour in a sash in a free craft workshop.

Scour the dressing up box to arrive in Edwardian dress with prizes for the best dressed boy and girl!

Book online to save.  

 


 

Be Medieval at Lullingstone for Bank Holiday Weekend!

Sunday 27 & Bank Holiday Monday 28 May - Medieval Weekend

Lullingstone is transformed into a magical medieval village – step back in time to experience the authentic sights and sounds with 'living history' displays (including live firing of cannons and mock battles!), character dress, campfires, tents and medieval weapons, courtesy of the remarkable Woodvilles medieval re-enactment group. Everyone can get involved with the archery sessions – fun for all the family!

Special Event  – admission charge £10 per adult and children 15 go FREE.

Art in June Open Studios 8 - 24 June

This is the time to be inspired, to treat yourself or find that special gift!  Visit the studios of the many talented artists and craftspeople in the Sevenoaks district in Kent.  Open 8 - 24 June, but check for opening hours in the yellow booklet or at www.artinjune.org

Admire painting, ceramics, jewellery and textiles during this fantastic Open Studios fortnight.

Photo: Margate by Lynda Beazleigh

Festival Fever hits Sevenoaks

Festival fever has hit Sevenoaks with a vengeance!  Whether you're a fan of books, drama or music there's something on offer for you!

Bank Holiday weekend, May 6/7 is the date for the 2018 Chiddingstone Literary Festival, a literary feast with Ian Rankin, Adam Kay, Diana Henry and so many more - all set within the intriguing setting of this quirky Kent country house. 

Celebrating its 35th anniversary season is Hever Festival Theatre. Booking is now open for an eclectic range of music and drama.  There's definitely a treat in store for all the family here. Take a picnic and make it a real occasion.

Sevenoaks itself launches its 2018 Festival Programme on Saturday 23 June. Don't miss out on this annual cornucopia of delights and book now!

 

Simply Sevenoaks 2018 photo competition

‘KENT’S HIDDEN GEMS!’

Oh happy snappers . . .

Sevenoaks District Accommodation Forum (SDAF) is offering you a fabulous opportunity! Enter our annual photo competition for the chance to have your winning image feature on the cover of our 2018 accommodation and tourist guide, “Spend time in Sevenoaks”. 

We want a truly heart-stopping front cover image which screams ‘wow – where’s that?’ to tourists and locals alike!  Can you take a stunning photo of a hidden Kent gem – be it countryside, Kent produce, vineyards, lavender fields, historic gardens and houses, or a heart-racing surprise moment in Kent?

If you’re ready for the challenge, post your photograph on Facebook (@simply7oaks) using the hashtag #simply7oaks for your chance to be our image of 2018.  Alternatively email to: info@doubledance.co.uk. Please include a location/title for your entry.

In addition to your image being our 2018 guide front cover, the lucky winner will receive a celebratory bottle of bubbles from The Mount Vineyard, Shoreham.

Help us say ‘Wow – this is Kent!’

  • Closing date for entries is 12.00 am (midnight) on Sunday 29th October 2017.
  • The winner will be announced on Wednesday 8th November 2017.
  • All entries must be available as an A5 portrait, with a resolution of 300 dpi.
  • Entries must be an image of Sevenoaks and its District (ie 20 mile radius from central Sevenoaks).
  • The decision of SDAF is final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.
  • Details on how to claim the prize and full prize terms and conditions will be given in the letter of notification.
  • Copyright will remain with the photographer. However by entering this competition the photographer/entrant agrees to SDAF and its members using the images for exhibitions, publications (print or digital) or for promotional use.

Good luck and start posting!

© Mary Allwood for our 2016 cover photo

Be our 2018 Simply Sevenoaks cover photo!

‘Kent’s Hidden Gems!’

Oh happy snappers . . .

Sevenoaks District Accommodation Forum (SDAF) is offering you a fabulous opportunity! Enter our annual photo competition for the chance to have your winning image feature on the cover of our 2018 accommodation and tourist guide, “Spend time in Sevenoaks”. 

We want a truly heart-stopping front cover image which screams ‘wow – where’s that?’ to tourists and locals alike!  Can you take a stunning photo of a hidden Kent gem – be it countryside, Kent produce, vineyards, lavender fields, historic gardens and houses, or a heart-racing surprise moment in Kent?

If you’re ready for the challenge, post your photograph on Facebook (@simply7oaks) using the hashtag #simply7oaks for your chance to be our image of 2018.  Alternatively email to: info@doubledance.co.uk. Please include a location/title for your entry.

In addition to your image being our 2018 guide front cover, the lucky winner will receive a celebratory bottle of bubbles from The Mount Vineyard, Shoreham.

Help us say ‘Wow – this is Kent!’

  • Closing date for entries is 12.00 am (midnight) on Sunday 29th October 2017.
  • The winner will be announced on Wednesday 8th November 2017.
  • All entries must be available as an A5 portrait, with a resolution of 300 dpi.
  • Entries must be an image of Sevenoaks and its District (ie 20 mile radius from central Sevenoaks).
  • The decision of SDAF is final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.
  • Details on how to claim the prize and full prize terms and conditions will be given in the letter of notification.
  • Copyright will remain with the photographer. However by entering this competition the photographer/entrant agrees to SDAF and its members using the images for exhibitions, publications (print or digital) or for promotional use.

Good luck and start posting!

Be Medieval @ Lullingstone this Bank Holiday!

Bank Holiday weekend, Sunday 28 and Monday 29 May, will see Lullingstone Castle transformed into a magical medieval village – step back in time to experience the authentic sights and sounds with 'living history' displays (including live firing of mini cannons and mock battles!), character dress, campfires, tents and medieval weapons, courtesy of the remarkable Woodvilles medieval re-enactment group. Everyone can get involved with the archery sessions – fun for all the family!

2017 Special Event – admission charge £10 per adult and children (under 15) FREE entry

Jane Austen in Kent

"Kent is the only place for Happiness.  Everybody is rich there" - Jane Austen, 19 December 1798

2017 is the year of Jane Austen's bi-centenary, so it's appropriate that we celebrate this but also Jane's extensive family connections with Kent, and the Sevenoaks district.

Did you know that the family roots were in Kent, with the early Austen family living in Horsmonden as cloth makers?  Jane's great grandmother lived in Bordyke, Tonbridge and later worked at Sevenoaks School, as a housekeeper.  Her sons were educated at the school, with Francis becoming a wealthy lawyer living in The Red House on Sevenoaks High Street.  Francis' second wife was Jane's godmother, hence Jane's own visit to Sevenoaks in 1788, aged 12.

Jane's family ties encouraged numerous Kent visits to Goodnestone Park, Godmersham and Chilham.  Family members also lived in Seal, near Sevenoaks.  Jane's books make frequent mention of Kent, with the notorious planned elopement of Georgiana Darcy potentially taking place in Ramsgate.

So why not make a tour of literary Kent?  The Historic Houses Association launched a literary trail section on their website this year.  So log on and see what literary inspiration you can find!

If you need accommodation, www.simplysevenoaks.co.uk can inspire with fantastic B&B and self-catering options.

Make your stay a historic one . . .

May we Introduce SDAF's fabulous new member, TAYLOR HOUSE in Edenbridge? This stunningly refurbished Grade 1 listed 15th townhouse stands proudly on Edenbridge High Street.  

Built in 1468 for the Lord Mayor of London, William Taylor, the house has witnessed history passing its front door for centuries.  Now you can be part of its contemporary history by staying in this gem where period features have been complemented by 21st century luxuries! 

This atmospheric self-catering property sleeps a maximum of 12, in five bedrooms (including one four poster), and two bathrooms.  A large and comprehensively equipped kitchen/diner, three reception rooms and on-site parking will make this a fantastic family and friends holiday base.

Take a look for yourself and be wowed!

What's that in the cupboard?

Tidying out? Discovered something dusty and unused at the back of the cupboard? Is the 'something' a thing of beauty, interest, or history? If so, perhaps you should head to Ightham Mote this Thursday, 16 June where BBC Antiques Roadshow will be filming. Entry is free, Ightham WI are serving mouthwatering home-made cakes, and although the queues might be long, the antique expert might possibly have some good news!

Worth the trip? Definitely . . . . and good luck!