10 good reasons to visit Edenbridge
PUBLISHED: 10:49 14 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:24 21 November 2016
Set on the border of Kent and Surrey, Edenbridge is a tucked-away little town with a pretty river, green surroundings and one of the best Bonfire Night celebrations in the county. Words by: Caroline Read. Pictures by: Manu Palomeque
1. Light up the sky
Edenbridge Bonfire Society has kept the tradition of Bonfire Night celebrations very much alive and the annual event is now one of the south east’s most famous. Kicking off with a torchlit procession of around 500 people through the town’s ancient streets, it’s held on the nearest Saturday to 5 November each year. Famed for the burning of its incredible 10-metre tall effigies – including a mystery ‘celebrity Guy’, the identity of which is often the subject of much betting beforehand – the event includes carnival floats, marching bands and fairground rides at the Recreation Ground. A sensational fireworks display ends the festivities. Visit www.edenbridgebonfire.co.uk
2. Rich heritage
It may only be a small town but Edenbridge has a fascinating history and one that is remembered in the small but perfectly formed Eden Valley Museum. This community-based museum is often described as a ‘hidden gem’ and is set in an old medieval farmhouse in the centre of town. With exhibits and interactive displays focusing on the history of the Eden Valley area, there are all sorts of items from the town’s blacksmith and tannery industries, as well as a photo archive. The museum reopened with a new lighting system earlier this year. Visit www.evmt.org.uk
3. Play away
Parents travel from miles around to visit Manic Monsters, a popular indoor soft play centre in Little Browns Lane. A safe and fun environment suitable for babies right up to children of 12 years old, it’s a wonderland of slides, tunnels and ball pools with a good café for parents to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids run off some steam. It’s also a popular choice for birthday parties and is available for private hire. Visit www.manicmonsters.co.uk
4. Golfing country
The area is known for its golf and with a choice of three clubs practically on its doorstep there’s bound to be something for every golf lover. The setting of Hever Castle Golf Club (www.hever.co.uk) couldn’t be more romantic, with the historic Hever Castle as a backdrop and a 250-acre course with 27 holes. In nearby Cowden, Sweetwoods Park Golf Club (www.sweetwoodspark.com) has been investing heavily, updating their course and adding a contemporary clubhouse, and at Kent and Surrey Golf Club (www.thekentandsurrey.co.uk) – formerly Edenbridge Golf Club – there is a stunning open parkland course where thousands of young trees have recently been added to enhance the landscape.
5. All about EVE
Edenbridge boasts one of the UK’s most impressive photo archives at TopFoto in Fircroft Way. The collection began with the purchase of local photographer John Topham’s archive in 1975 and has been greatly added to by owner Alan Smith so that it now contains many millions of images. The EVE gallery is TopFoto’s little sister and shares some of these works during public exhibitions. It also acts as a shop window for the collection and it’s here that art lovers can buy high-quality digital prints. Visit www.evegallery.co.uk for more information.
6. Inspiring gardens
Roger Platts, Kent Life’s head judge in our annual gardening competition, runs a flourishing plant nursery in Edenbridge. The seven-acre site was opened in 1996 and includes a garden design centre, a glasshouse and polytunnels, along with a vast wildflower meadow and bluebell woodland. As an award-winning horticulturalist and garden designer, Roger has supplied many of the top-quality plants used by exhibitors at the Chelsea Flower Show. The nursery, which is a treat for all plant lovers, specialises in large and unusual plants, which are laid-out in informal gardens. Visit www.rogerplatts.com
7. Antiques hunting
Edenbridge is well-known for its antiques shops, the most famous if which are Lennox Cato Antiques and The Edenbridge Galleries, both owned by Antique Roadshow furniture expert, Lennox Cato. In the showrooms, set in the historic heart of the town, you will find an interesting mix of decorative and formal furniture mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. Lennox is often on hand to give advice and the galleries next to his main shop showcase the items of several British Antique Dealers’ Association members and are a delight for any antique or interior design enthusiast. Visit www.lennoxcato.com and www.edenbridgegalleries.com
8. Boleyn’s Castle
The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, romantic Hever Castle is only three miles from Edenbridge and is a wonderful day out for the whole family. The building dates back to 1270 and William Waldorf Astor bought, extended and restored the castle in the early 1900s. It’s thanks to him that visitors today can enjoy the fabulous gardens and the man-made lake in the grounds. These days there are many popular events throughout the year and Hever also offers guests the chance to stay overnight in a range of rooms in wings off the main house. It really comes to life at Christmas when twilight visitors are treated to a display of twinkling lights and an audience with Father Christmas himself. Visit www.hevercastle.co.uk
9. Down by the river
Edenbridge is set on the banks of the little River Eden. A tributary of the Medway, it’s a haven for wildlife with fish, water voles, insects and, if you’re really lucky, an occasional otter sighting. In the past the river was used to power mills in the town but these days it’s mainly used by walkers; the15-mile Eden Valley walk runs through the valley and, at certain points, along the river. Visit www.explorekent.org for details.
10. Hidden gem
Nearby Chiddingstone Castle is a real hidden gem. The historic home, designed in a Gothic style and set in a National Trust village, was owned by antiques dealer and collector Denis Eyre Bower until his death in 1977. Now his fine collections of Japanese, Egyptian, Stuart and Jacobite artefacts can be seen by visitors, who can also explore the 35 acres of grounds. Annual events include a popular Christmas Fair on 26 November. Visit www.chiddingstonecastle.org.uk