There has been a house here since the 1550’s, first owned by the Streatfeild family, ancestors of Ballet Shoes author Noel Streatfeild.
The Castle has had famous & infamous names associated with it over the years, Lady Anne Sidney from nearby Penshurst Place, Lord Astor of local Hever Castle fame and even a tenuous connection to Jane Austen.
The paths of love and fortune have not run smooth and the last occupant was imprisoned in Wormwood Scrubs for shooting his fiancée. Passionate about love but more passionate about antiques Denys Eyre Bower bought the house to store his collections.
The Stuart & Jacobite collection puts into context the development of the local town of Royal Tunbridge Wells and sheds light on the personality of Denys Bowers, a Bhuddist by belief, he thought he may be a re-incarnation of Bonnie Prince Charlie and amassed many Stuart manuscripts and autographed letters, Jacobite memorabilia, portrait miniatures, tobacco and snuff boxes, medals and coins, and books.
Collections of Egyptian artefacts show many aspects of everyday life thousands of years ago including a mummified cat and baboon sarcocophi.
The Japanese collection includes Samurai armour, swords and one of the finest Japanese lacquer private collections in the West.
Denys Bower wanted to share his passion for objects of beauty and so displayed his collections in the castle for the public. On his death in 1977, he bequeathed his life’s work to the nation.
Less grand than better known Penshurst Place but well worth a visit!