Museum of Kent Life

Open Air Museum

A great day out in Kent for all the family. Explore 28 acres of fun from hands-on activities for kids to age-old farming traditions that bring back memories from way back when. We've got animals to cuddle, tractors to ride, play areas to go wild in, fascinating historic buildings to explore and cafés to relax in.

The 28-acre site that constitutes Kent Life has evolved through the years from the historic Sandling Farm, an area that formed part of the wider Allington Castle estate in the mid 16th century – stretching some 461 acres – and was owned by Thomas Wyatt.

The Allington Castle estate, later known as the Cobtree estate, was the property of the Tyrwhitt-Drake family. It passed to the only son Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake who inherited it after his father passed away in the early 1900s. An eccentric man, Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake established a small zoo on the grounds and it is believed that he had a fascination for the Zebra, painting black and white stripes on a donkey so he could admire it from his manor! A charitable trust was set up for the Cobtree Estate in 1951.

After Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake died childless in 1964, his estate was bequeathed to the people of Maidstone. By 1983 a joint project between Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council had created ‘The Museum of Kent Life’ (as it was formerly known) on the site of the old Sandling Farm, and it was officially opened to the public on 6 July 1985. Thus, the Museum of Kent Life was set up as a working heritage farm on which to tell the story of everything once Kentish.