Belmont House and Gardens deserve to be better known

89 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do

Date of travel

September, 2023

Product name

Belmont House and Gardens, Kent

Product country


Product city

Near Faversham

Travelled with


Reasons for trip


Belmont House and Gardens deserve to be better known than they are: I’ve visited many times as it’s not far from where I live so it’s a good place to take friends and family who haven’t yet seen it as the garden is open all year round; I also went to the Antiques Road Show when it was filmed there a couple of years ago.

A red brick farmhouse was built on the site in 1769 by the man who was in charge of the Royal Powder Mills at nearby Faversham. In 1801 Belmont was bought by General George Harris, later the 1st Lord Harris, and generations of the Harris family lived at Belmont for around 200 years. The extended house you see now was designed by Samuel Wyatt and is joined to the older house by a large orangery. The house stands in a very large estate that includes farming, forestry and a golf course and is now run by a board of trustees having been set up as a charitable trust by its last private owner, the 5th Lord Harris, as he wanted members of the public to be able to enjoy the gardens and house. Volunteers are needed to supplement the paid staff so the tea room seems to only be open only when the house is open. However, it is well worth having lunch there. It’s in the old stable block and the menu usually includes things like large pork and applie sausage roll with salad leaves, spanakopita with dressed leaves, quiche, filled bagel etc. Things sell out fairly quickly but don’t be afraid to ask the people working there about any crossed off items as sometimes more are being cooked/prepared in the main house ready to be brought over to the cafe.

The gardens are open daily all year from 10.00am to 6.00pm (or dusk if earlier): Currently the admission to the garden is £7 for adults and £2.50 for children aged 12–16. There are several different parts to the garden – sweeping open parkland with distant views north towards the Thames Estuary, nearer the house is a walled garden with pond and flower beds, a Pinetum and an old grotto. However, I think the most impressive part of the garden is on the other side of the main driveway, past the car park – a large kitchen garden designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd that incorporates the beautiful Victorian greenhouses. This is a lovely area with hops trained over arches, espaliered apples and pears, figs, soft fruit and later in the year squashes, plus flowers for cutting; there’s also a nut platt, with Kentish hazelnuts. Last year I visited twice and on each occasion was able to buy fruit grown in the garden. If only visiting the garden tickets should be paid for on arrival in the Tack Room – cash only, no change given – or online in advance;

The house only opens from late March to late September (full details are on the website – but not every day: on Tuesdays and Thursdays during this period it is open for self-guided tours from 1.30 pm to last entry at 3.00 pm. There are volunteers in each room to answer any questions one might have. Currently adults pay £12 and children £6; but this also includes entrance to the garden. Tickets can be bought online or in person in the Orangery on the side of the house.. Additionally, on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays there are guided tours of the house – Adults £15 and children £8. Touring the house, looking at the portraits and the contents of this family home is a good way to learn about each generation of the Harris family: the 1st Lord Harris’s military campaign in India, the 2nd Lord Harris fought at Waterloo, the 3rd Lord Harris was Governor of Trinidad and commissioned watercolours by the Trinidadian artist, Michel-Jean Cazabon, some of which are displayed the Cazabon Room (guest bedroom), the 4th Lord Harris was Governor of Bombay but is best known for being an amateur cricketer who was captain of the Kent and England teams and was also instrumental in setting up the Marylebone Cricket Club. Consequently there are many items of cricket memorabilia in Belmont House and there is also a cricket pitch in the grounds that is still used. The 5th Lord Harris had a passion for clocks from an early age and his collection at Belmont is reputed to be the best in England outside major museums. Visitors can see a display of some of the clocks and watches during their tour of the house but there are also special clock tours on the last Sunday of the month from April to September but these have to be booked online. The family jewellery collection is now at the V&A but there are photographs of some of the items on display on the first floor.

I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Belmont, particularly on a day when the house is open and can recommend the cafe, either for a light lunch before touring the house, or tea and cake or cream tea after the tour, but be sure to look at the kitchen garden. Last, but not least, there is a quirky Georgian flint follie called Prospect Tower which overlooks the cricket pitch. It is now in the care of The Landmark Trust and has accommodation for two people; it looks like a wonderful place to spend a couple of nights.


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