Take time out from the hustle and bustle of a packed high street, and indulge in a day of traditional festivities in sumptuously historic surroundings set in stunning winter landscapes. This Christmas, National Trust properties in Kent throw open their gates to reveal festively decorated interiors, craft workshops, warming winter meals, and inspiring winter walks. You may even find yourself stepping back into another century.

Chartwell
The gardens of Sir Winston Churchill’s beloved home, with magnificent views over the Weald, are open all year round – perfect for tranquil winter strolls before the indulgences of Christmas. If you fancy going further afield, pick up a free leaflet that reveals some of the lovely walking routes in the wider estate.

A little outdoor exercise is a great excuse to return to Chartwell’s cosy restaurant, which is serving delicious hot meals throughout December, as well as special festive lunches (booking advisable). The popular Holly Hikes return for two dates in December, when visitors can enjoy a guided walk of the grounds and woods before returning for warming mulled wine and mince pies.

Younger visitors can also have plenty of fun outside as they explore a ‘reindeer track’ that leads them through the woodland estate and teaches them more about animal identification. A visit to Mary Churchill’s pretty garden playhouse is also essential, in order to write that all-important letter to Father Christmas, who is paying a special two-day visit to Chartwell.

Festive lunches; from 7 to 23 December, (put in times), from £21, booking essential on 01732 861161.

Holly Hikes: 14 & 17 December, 10.30am – 1pm, £5.50, includes mulled wine and mince pie, booking essential on 01732 861161

Reindeer winter tracker walk: 7 – 31 December, 11am – 3pm, normal admission charge.

Playhouse Christmas wish list: 7 – 23 December, 11am – 3pm, normal admission charge.

Father Christmas visits: 17 & 18 December, 11am – 3pm, normal admission charge.

Garden, studio, shop and restaurant open until 11 December Wednesdays to Sundays, then every day until 31 December, 11am – 4pm.

Chartwell, Westerham, Kent TN16 1PS, tel: 01732 86838101732 868381

Ightham Mote

This romantic moated manor house, which spans many centuries, is dressed for a sparkling Victorian Christmas in the Great Hall, but a 1950s American-style Christmas in the Library! Lynn Antwis, House Steward, explains why: “This house has been here since Medieval times but we have always presented a 19th-century festive style because we have the archival records describing this period. However, having recently talked to the family of previous owner Henry Robinson, their recollections of Christmas with ‘Uncle Henry’ have inspired us to recreate a 1950s American season too!”

The award-winning Mote restaurant is also taking up the 1950s theme, with a fabulous retro Christmas menu, including New Hampshire venison pie, New England corn and bacon chowder, a classic American meatloaf and an indulgent walnut and maple syrup cheesecake. If that wasn’t enough, the restaurant is also hosting two of its very popular Pudding Evenings in December.

This idyllic location is the perfect place in which to walk off festive excesses. Part of the garden remains open in December, with meandering paths taking in the pretty courtyard, vegetable garden and stable garden. A walking leaflet details waymarked trails that take visitors onto the wider wooded estate, which is open all year.

Round off a day at Ightham Mote with a browse in the shop, brimming with gifts to suit all pockets.

Christmas lunches: 1 – 4, 8 – 11, 15 – 18 December, 12 – 2pm, from £19.50, booking essential on 01732 811314.

Pudding Evenings: 1 & 2 December, 7 – 9.30pm, £19.75, booking essential on 01732 81131.

House (ground floor only), gardens (partial), shop and restaurant open until 18 December, Thursday to Sunday, 11am – 3pm.

Ightham Mote, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks TN15 0NT, tel: 01732 810378

Scotney Castle

One of the most picturesque landscapes in England, this celebrated garden with its romantic buildings has a fantastic family programme this Christmas.

All the fun of the fair comes to Scotney, with an authentic Victorian fairground ride, children’s craft activities and the chance to gather together for a hearty sing-song at the castle’s Christmas carols. Local choirs are singing throughout the afternoon, and mulled wine, warming spiced apple drinks and delicious mince pies will get everyone in the festive mood. Scotney’s shop is full of inspirational gifts for all ages.

Younger visitors can let their imaginations run wild at the Twinkle twinkle weekend craft days. Make snowflakes and Christmas tree angels to take home, or explore the nooks and crannies of these incredible gardens with an outdoor activity sheet.

The magical surroundings of Scotney Castle are a lovely place in which to enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, set in the pretty coach house tea room. Then brush away the cobwebs with a walk through the gardens and into the parkland, woods and farmland beyond. Try out the new family trail and woodland taster trail – perfect for those who want to explore the wider countryside but don’t want to venture too far. Don’t miss the romantic ruins of the Medieval castle and moat!

If you’ve been bitten by the nation’s renewed interest in home crafts but don’t know where to start, then try Scotney Castle’s one day Christmas wreath and garland workshop. Be inspired by expert florists Cathy Cornielle and Angela Elligham as they demonstrate how to create a fabulous festive decoration. After lunch, the group will take a short stroll through the estate to gather natural materials, then return to create stunning arrangements to take home.

Christmas carols and Victorian fairground: 3 & 4 December, 12 – 3pm, normal admission charge.

Twinkle twinkle craft activities: 1 – 18 December Saturdays/Sundays, 11am – 4pm, normal admission charge.

Christmas lunches: 1 – 18 December except Mondays/Tuesdays, 12 – 2pm, from £19.50, booking essential on 01892 893869

Wreath and garland workshop: 10 December, 10.30am – 3pm, £75 including lunch, wine and all materials. Booking essential on 01892 893860.

Garden open until 18 December, Saturdays/Sundays, 11am – 4pm.
House open 3 – 18 December (guided tours only), Saturdays/Sundays, 11am – 4pm.
Shop and tea room open until 18 December, Wednesdays to Sundays.
Wider estate open all year.

Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells TN3 8JN, tel: 01892 893860