Kent is rich in houses formerly inhabited by some of the world's best-known literary names.

Get a taste of the environments that inspired these authors to create their great masterpieces

Rudyard Kipling lived at Bateman's from 1902 to his death in 1936, and wrote many of his finest works in its book-lined study. The house reflects Kipling’s links with his childhood in India, and is presented as if the family are still in residence.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived in Crowborough for the last 23 years of his life. He used nearby Groombridge Place as the setting of his final Sherlock Holmes novel 'The Valley of Fear', calling it Birlstone Manor in the story. He was good friends with Sophia, Eliza and Louisa Saint who lived at Groombridge Place in the late 1800s and often visited them. As a confirmed spiritualist, he used to take part in séances there, which were popular at the time. He also loved The Drunken Garden, which you can still see today.

A visit to Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, offers an intriguing insight into the mind of one of England's greatest scientists. See the study where he wrote On the Origin of Species and a replica of his cabin on HMS Beagle. Visit the hot-house where you can encounter his famous carnivorous plants.

E.M. Forster, also a member of the Bloomsbury Group, attended Tonbridge School. The theatre there is named in his honour.
Vita Sackville-West lived at Knole House and Sissinghurst Castle - Vita's love for Knole led her to write a history of the house and her family, in a book, 'Knole and the Sackvilles'. In one of her best-known novels, 'The Edwardians', she based the grand house Chevron, on Knole. She also wrote a weekly column for The Observer called 'In your Garden' that became a garden writing classic.  She was a founder member of the National Trust's garden committee.  She won the Hawthornden Prize twice for her poetry.  See BLOOMS AND THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP TOUR.

Virginia Woolf lived for many years at Monk's House in Sussex, where she wrote 'To The Lighthouse', 'The Waves' and 'Orlando', inspired by her friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West.  See BLOOMS AND THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP TOUR.

The Austen family had many links to Kent that can be traced back as early as the 16th Century. Jane Austen’s father, George Austen was born in Tonbridge and was once a pupil and headmaster of Tonbridge School. Her grandmother had ensured that all her children receive an excellent education, despite not having had one herself, and in so doing, instilled in her family a love of learning that led to Jane becoming one of the best-known English authors. Jane Austen often visited her brother, George, who lived nearby. She refers to Tonbridge Ware in her novel, ‘Emma’. A circular Jane Austen Walk and audio tour can be taken from the Tonbridge’s library taking in such sights as the church of St Peter and St Paul where the family worshipped and where some are buried. Many of Jane’s ancestors are also buried in St Margaret’s Churchyard in the nearby village of Horsmonden. The spa town of Tunbridge Wells also appears in several of Jane’s novels, and her beloved brother Henry is buried in the small Woodbury Park Cemetery tucked behind St Johns Road.

Film Locations

Kent often features in films and TV and a few of those locations are close to each other in the Tunbridge Wells area.

Henry VIII and Anne BoleynHever Castleis historically famous for being the family home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I. Parts of the building date back to 1270. You may recognise it from HE Bates’ 'The Darling Buds of May', the films 'The Other Boleyn Girl' starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, and 'Lady Jane' starring Helena Bonham-Carter. It has been the location and backdrop to many other films.

A few miles away is Penshurst Place, a superb medieval hall house, where much of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ was also filmed. The unspoiled estate and Tudor Gardens helped to bring the era to life. It is here that Henry first lays eyes on Anne and where the wedding feast was staged.

Penshurst PlaceBBC Two's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall took the Queen Elizabeth Room, The Tapestry Room, The Solar, The Long Gallery, and The Crypt and created Tudor interiors clearly fit for Kings and courtiers. You'll be able to see which scenes were filmed there as you walk in the footsteps of Mark Rylance, Claire Foy and Damian Lewis. ‘Anne Of A 1000 Days‘ was also filmed here and the BBC’s ‘Merlin’ crew have used the house a few times.

Knole HouseMagnificent Knole House is close by. A 17th century country house, with its own deer park, it is part owned by The National Trust but is also still the home of the Sackville-Wests.

It has also featured in ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and was the location in the 1967 Beatles’ videos that accompanied the release of ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

More recently it was one of the locations in the 4th ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’ film.

Groombridge PlaceGroombridge Place in Tunbridge Wells provided the perfect location for the Bennett’s family home in one of Jane Austen’s most famous novels, Pride and Prejudice.

Why not take a tour?

Our full or half day tours give you the perfect opportunity to visit these historic attractions in the Potted History Tours taxi.

Hunting Henry

Churchill's Sanctuary

Winnie the Pooh

The Bloomsbury Group

Contact us for more details or to book a bespoke tour.

Tour Prices

Full Day Tour (up to 5 people) - £350.00

Half Day Tour (up to 5 people) - £200.00

Picnic Prices

Hunting Henry - £25.00 per person

Teddy Bears' Picnic - £15.00 per child (16 and under)

Garden of Englan' Picnic - £25.00 per person

You Say...

We had a great day out at Hever Castle and Penshurst Place. Clare was very good....and very patient. Recommended!
Elizabeth Jenkins

We know it's an extremely difficult time, and while we can't welcome you with open arms in our usual way, we'd love you to keep in touch. All our usual tours are suspended until further notice, but there are still things you can do and see.

The National Trust has closed all its houses and castles, but their gardens are still open, and are now free entry!

The Potted History Tours vehicle is a London taxi, with a glass screen between the driver and passengers, so effectively, social distancing can continue. Please get in touch on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like more information or to book a tour later in the year. We will keep you updated as to when we can begin showing off this green and pleasant land once again.

Cheerio for now and look after each other!