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Chevening has one of the great gardens of Kent (listed Grade 1). The gardens were first laid out by the Earl of Stanhope between 1690 and 1720 in the French formal style, but in the 1770s a more informal English style was introduced. In the 19thC lawns, parterres and a maze were established and many specimen trees planted which are now at their mature best. A cascade, modelled on a 1718 predecessor, was added to commemorate 250 years of the Stanhope family’s stewardship of the 3000 acre estate. The 7th Earl gifted Chevening to the state in 1959 since when it has become customarily used as the country residence of the Foreign Secretary.
Chiddingstone Castle has evolved over 500 years from a 16th C Tudor Manor House to a Carolean Mansion in 1680, which was then gothicised between 1805 and 1808 by the architect William Atkinson. The Steatfeild family continued to won the property throughout this period until 1938. It is now owned by a charitable trust. The park and garden similarly evolved from 17thC formality to the more open parkland with lake favoured in the 18th and 19th centuries. The three acre lake was probably made by extending a formal canal. Near the water are some caves with a mock tomb, and a hollow tree with a gothic arch cut into it. These are set in mature hornbeam and beech woodland and are considered an important example of the Picturesque period of gardening history.
Sir Dudley Digges completed the building we see today in 1616 on the site of a pre-existing Norman castle. He introduced the spectacular terracing that is a key feature of the garden today. In the middle of 18thC the then owner Thomas Heron enlarged the park and redesigned the grounds with the help of Capability Brown whose main legacy is a ha-ha that allowed the parkland and views to the Stour valley to be seen from the house without interruption. The gardens were further developed in the 19thC by the then owner Charles Stewart Hardy who created a lake, and arranged for the planting of thousands of trees.