History here and now
Set in the rural Weald of Kent, surrounded by picturesque countryside and ancient parkland, the medieval heart of Penshurst Place has changed little over the centuries.
The original part of the house was built in 1341 by Sir John de Pulteney, a wealthy London merchant and Lord Mayor of London, who wanted to build a country establishment within a day's ride of London.
Though at its heart a medieval and Tudor building, the house has been modified and extended over the centuries. Eight architectural styles are evident, with plenty for visitors to explore in it's fascinating history - and still many mysteries to be revealed.
Penshurst Place has been owned by the Sidney family since 1552; after passing through the hands of two of Henry IV's sons, then the Dukes of Buckingham, followed by, on the beheading of 3rd Duke of Buckingham, becoming the property of the Crown during the reign of Henry VIII - with documentation Henry used it as a hunting lodge. Given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII, it was then briefly in the hands of Sir Ralph Fane who was executed in 1552. Finally, Penshurst Place estate was gifted to the Sidney family by Henry VIII's son, Edward VI; to his loyal steward and tutor, Sir William Sidney. Sir William's grandson was the Elizabethan poet and courtier Sir Philip Sidney.
More recently, after Penshurst suffered damage during the Second World War, a direct descendant, also named William Sidney, who later became 1st Viscount De L'Isle and the last English Governor-General of Australia, inherited and moved into Penshurst Place with his family in 1946 and brought the house and gardens back to their former glory.
Retaining the warmth and character of a much-loved family home, his son, the current owner Philip Sidney, 2nd Viscount De L'Isle MBE, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, continues his family's stewardship of this unique place, with his wife Isobel and their two grown up children, Philip and Sophia.
You can find more information about the Sidney family and the history of Penshurst Place in our guidebook. If you would like to purchase a copy and arrange to have it sent to you, please call our Gift Shop on 01892 870307. The Gift Shop also stock a small selection of academic books on the Sidney family and Penshurst Place, some of which are listed here.