Penshurst Place, once owned by King Henry VIII, is one of the best examples of a fortified medieval manor house in England. Since the 14th century Penshursh has been the seat of the Sidney family but passed along the female line in the 18th century and later to Lord De L'isle. The De L'isle family still own Penshurst today.


1329 John de Pultenay purchased the Penshurst estate from the Penchester family. The worn 13th century effigy of Sir Stephen de Penchester can be found in the estate and local parish church of St John the Baptist.

Pultenay was one of the richest and most powerful men of the mid-14th century. A wealthy merchant, he served four times as Lord Mayor of London.

In 1522 Edward VI granted Penshurst to Sir William Sidney, a statesman and soldier.

Ownership passed to his son, Sir Henry Sidney, one of the most politically active men of the Tudor era.

The Sidney line died out in the 18th century, and the estate passed through the female line to the Shelley's (related to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley). The new owner was Sir John Shelley, who took the name Sidney. Sir John's son was the first Lord De L'isle.

Our Visit

Christine and I went to Penshurst on a quiet winter’s day and enjoyed a private tour and lunch after meeting Lady De L'isle, as friends of the RA, Piccadilly.

To the south of the house are 10 acres of gardens in Italianate style, with clipped hedges of box, arranged around a quiet fountain. High yew hedges protect a large orchard.

Wolf Hall

The BBC historical drama series Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s novels and starring Mark Rylance, Damien Lewis, Claire Foy and Mark Gatiss, was partly filmed at Penshurst.

Photos from Wolf Hall

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Mark Rylance (1) as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, filmed in The Long Gallery at Penshurst Place. (2) Portrayal of Mary Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn, Mary Shelton and Jane Rochford.

Photographs by Giles Keyte. Copyright © Company Pictures/Playground Entertainment/BBC MMXIV


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