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Police appeal as man in his 60s dies after 'rock throwing' incident at Lullingstone Castle near Dartford

Two teenagers are wanted by police after a pensioner died following a rock throwing incident.

It happened in the grounds of Lullingstone Castle, in Eynsford, near Dartford, at around 5pm yesterday.

VIDEO: Police remained in the Lullingstone Castle grounds on Friday morning

Officers were called to the castle following reports of a disturbance and Charles Hilder, 66, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It's alleged he was involved in an altercation with two boys near a lake in the grounds just before his death.

Police spokesman Martin Very said: "Investigators are appealing for information from anybody who was in the area, including dog walkers, anglers and golfers, who witnessed the incident or saw two young people in the vicinity of the lake between 12pm and 7pm."

Armed officers were called last night and other officers were understood to be searching the fields close to the historic manor house, with one officer standing guard by a cordon.

Several police cars remain at the scene. Picture: UKnip
Several police cars remain at the scene. Picture: UKnip

They remained at the grounds this morning.

Summer Smith works in the stables there, and said: "It's just a bit eerie coming up here now - it's a bad atmosphere really.

"It's just a horrible feeling to come up knowing that we all work here, we're here all the time and it's such a good environment and then for something like that to happen is just horrible."

Natalie Forbes was walking around the grounds moments before police descended on the site.

She said: "Me and my partner and son where there. We had just parked up, we walked onto the golf course area for a late picnic.

Police at the scene near Lullingstone Castle. Picture: UKnip
Police at the scene near Lullingstone Castle. Picture: UKnip

"When we walked back to our car after the picnic, the area was cordoned off with our car stuck inside the crime scene.

"We waited at the tape with some officers who then said they'd take the owner of the vehicles through only. Which meant I had to leave my partner and nine-month old baby.

"They were escorted through the field to another exit so they could avoid the cordoned off area altogether.

"The police officer who escorted me to my car took me through. Unfortunately this meant I had to walk past the dead body on the floor to get to my car.

"I hope the police catch those responsible. My heart goes out to the man's family."

" It’s completely surreal seeing police here and to hear a man has died..."

One man who didn't want to be named, said: "I came out and saw armed police running up the road. Other officers told me it was now a crime scene."

A lady walking her dog on Friday morning said: “We’ve always walked along here and it’s been quiet and peaceful. It’s completely surreal seeing police here and to hear a man has died. You would never expect it.”

Police appeal for witnesses to come forward

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation should call Kent Police on 01622 604100, quoting reference 28-1127.

Anybody with video footage can make a report through the Kent Police section of the Major Incident Public Reporting Site here:or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111, or by completing an online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Police at the scene near Lullingstone Castle tonight. Picture: UKnip
Police at the scene near Lullingstone Castle tonight. Picture: UKnip

The castle and grounds form part of one of England’s oldest family estates, dating back to the Domesday Book in 1086.

It is owned by the Hart-Dyke family and attracts visitors from around the world to see its World Garden of exotic plants.

Tom Hart-Dyke regularly appears in the media to talk about the gardens.

In 2000, he made headlines when he was kidnapped by Colombian rebels while hunting for orchids.

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