Much of Scotney's charm derives from the romantic buildings found in the grounds.
The steep slopes of a bluff overlooking the River Bewel, richly planted with trees and shrubs, provide a beautiful backdrop to the picturesque ruined castle rising from the lake-like moat on the valley floor.
A fortified house was built here between 1378 - 80 by Roger Ashburnham.
He wished to protect this strategic site on his property where the road from Hastings and Rye crossed the River Bewel. All that remains of this 14th century building is the massive round south tower, with its projecting parapet at roof level, and a ruined gatehouse. Attached to this is a brick Elizabethan range which incorporated some of the original castle. The jagged walls and gapping windows beyond mark the remains of a substantial 17th century wing.
The Darrell family, who had owned Scotney since 1411, sold the property at auction in 1774 to Thomas Hussey. In 1835 his great-grandson, Edward Hussey III, commissioned the architect Anthony Salvin to design a neo-Tudor house on the bluff overlooking the moated ruins.
The house was built between 1837 - 1844 and at the same time William Sawrey Gilpin, the artist and landscape gardener, was engaged to advise on the creation of the 20 acre garden.
Gilpin was influenced by the Picturesque style which rejected the carefully manicured landscapes of the 'Capability' Brown school and favoured 'natural landscaping' which gave the illusion of nature untamed.
The steep slopes, genuine medieval ruin and deep quarry, left where the stone for the new house had been extracted, offered considerable potential for landscaping. The castle was pulled down even further to make it look more picturesque.
Below the new house a semicircular bastion provides a spectacular view down from the stone parapet over the quarry and slopes of the valley, planted with a huge variety of trees and shrubs, to the moated ruins of the old castle.
In the valley there is rich but restrained planting of shrubs and old roses, rushes, bamboos and marsh plants. These are dominated by immense limes, tulip trees and cut-leaf beech.
Beyond the river the park rises gently to beech and oak woodlands.
A walk along the top path from the house provides many changing vistas and prospectives and glimpses of the 17th century tower of Goudhurst church.
The surrounding estate also provides delightful country walks.
Scotney is magnificent in April when the Japanese maples are in leaf and magnolias bloom in the old quarry.
In early summer the azaleas and rhododendrons, descending to the lily-filled moat, are a blaze of colour. Later in the summer the old walls of the castle are surrounded by pink, white, and mauve roses and the formal herb garden created around an Italianate wellhead carries the scent of many aromatic plants. The garden is also greatly renowned for its autumn colour.
Successive generations of the Hussey family lavished care and affection on Scotney in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The only modern feature found in the garden today is a sculpture by Henry Moore known as the 'Reclining Figure'. This can be found in a secluded spot on a little isthmus in the lake and is a tribute to the memory of Christopher Hussey. He greatly enhanced the beauty of Scotney and gave one of England's most romantic gardens to the National Trust.