Sissinghurst is an ancient site. A stone manor house surrounded by a moat was built here in the Middle Ages. In the reign of Elizabeth I it was replaced by a splendid mansion built by the Baker family, who subsequently lost their fortune in the Civil War. Sissinghurst gradually fell into a ruinous state with the condition of the buildings so derelict that parts had to be demolished. Such were the conditions when Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson bought the estate in 1930. They embarked upon a project to restore the house and to design the now famous gardens which are laid out as a series of themed ‘outdoor rooms’. The most distinctive architectural feature of Sissinghurst is the 4-storey red-brick Elizabethan tower with capped octagonal turrets where Sackville-West kept her study and wrote her books.