Westenhanger Castle is set in fourteen acres of the beautiful Kentish countryside, not far from Folkestone. The Castle walls were built around 1400 and provided a safe haven for the land and subsequent buildings ever since. King Henry VIII purchased the site from Edward Poynings who had merged the two Manor Houses Westenhanger and Ostenhanger. Edward V and Elizabeth I both occupied the royal suites in the castle as it remained crown property until 1585. The Castle was one of the most imposing houses in Kent until the tenancy was taken on by Folkestone Racecourse in 1898.
Restoration began in 1997, supported by English Heritage and a number of different phases have been completed, although the Castle now is looking for investors to start work on the Hammerbeam Roofed Main Barn.
The Castle in a Wildlife Landscape
The 600-year story of the Castle made me wonder about the changes that had occurred in the landscape over the same time. There is evidence to show that the river had been diverted to fill the moat so we are asking what else might have changed or happened. During the year, working with Westenhanger’s Historian we will look to see how much we can discover about the wildlife that is living in the area and how that might have developed with the changing lives and uses of the Castle.
Working with the Historian from Westenhanger we will look to discover how the nearby landscape was used and how this might be seen in the wider world now. This will be the basis for an education programme that will look at conservation of wildlife and the conservation of historic buildings.
There are lots of different ways of exploring the grounds to discover what Wildlife lives there, how the landscape around the castle may have changed over time * – I mean - where did the water for the moat come from, how old are some of the trees and why is there a ship in the front garden?
We look forward to seeing you at some of the different events that will be running over the year. Easter will see our first big Public event but we are also planning activities in May, August, October and December. We can’t wait to meet you, talk to you and share the story of our work. We will be able to tell you about our different projects and how you can help us, to learn new things or to develop new skills all the while having fun in a fantastic location.