10 good reasons for visiting Paddock Wood
PUBLISHED: 16:06 21 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:12 20 February 2013
With strong hop farming connections and plenty to see and visit in and around the Paddock Wood area, this oast-rich region is always fascinating
10 good reasons for visiting Paddock Wood
Oasts with the most
Whatever the weather, Hop Farm Family Park (01622 872068) is fantastic fun for both adults and children. Theres a Pirate Cove, Giant Jumping Pillows, Children's Driving School, and the first Magic Factory of its kind in Britain. Dont miss Shires and Friends family farm, offering animal encounter sessions and the chance to see llamas, reindeer, goats and pigs. Theres also a Victorian Carrousel, play areas, plus The Hop Story: an exhibition of hop farming in three oast houses.
Woodpeckers and orchids
Designated as a Local Nature Reserve, massive Foal Hurst Wood is two thirds woodland, the remainder being meadow, and there are terrific rides and footpaths. Theres a wildflower meadow and in the spring you can see primroses, orchids and bluebells, while summer flowers include dog roses and honeysuckle. Foal Wood abounds with wonderful wildlife, including woodpeckers, wrens, crickets and grasshoppers.
One of the Seven Wonders of the Weald, Marle Place (01892 722304) is a sensational 10-acre garden with a series of colourful garden rooms with interesting features from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It has an Italian scented garden, kitchen garden, woodland walks and restored Victorian glasshouses with displays of orchids. Theres also a gallery for art exhibitions, and Wild at Art courses are on offer.
Kama Sutra teapots
Teapot Island (01622 814541) is a splendid exhibition of more than 6500 teapots, many being extremely valuable, including Kama Sutra teapots and one depicting Saddam Hussein with an oil barrel. An on-site potter gives demonstrations, and new pottery is available for children to paint, so as to create their personal keepsake. Theres a riverside caf (lunch, dinner or cream teas), and its surrounded by landscape thats perfect for riverside walks.
Bayham Old Abbey (01892 890381) is a lovely romantic ruin that includes the majority of a 13th to 15th-century church, chapter house and gatehouse, set in grounds designed by Humphrey Repton, and maintained by English Heritage. There are rooms in the Georgian Gothick dower house open to visitors, and in the main ruins you can see walls, room layouts and elaborate carved stonework, plus the ruins of the Kentish Gate gatehouse.
A tale of two Pemburys
Populated since the Iron Age, Pembury originally Pepingberia is split into two parts: the old village comprising the High Street and Hastings Road, where there are a number of shops, an inscribed horse trough (1555) and large St Peters 12th-century parish church plus a beautiful village green. Three miles away theres Upper Green, largely a residential area, the settlement that came into prominence during the 1820s as a stagecoach stop.
Around Paddock Wood
A centre for hop growing, as well as the transport hub for fruit and vegetables to and from Europe, Paddock Wood has a number of residential roads surrounding the town centre, which consists of the long Commercial Road, where youll find the main shops and lovely war memorial, and which leads to Station Road. The station powered the towns Victorian expansion, built to transport the London hop pickers for their annual hop-picking holiday.
West Kent Shooting School (01892 834306) is housed in 20 acres of wooded and landscaped grounds, and is a natural setting for both novice and expert clay pigeon shooters. There are qualified instructors, 100 different target combinations, and 40 fully automatic self-loading clay traps offering an exciting range of shooting positions and targets.
Horsmonden, a hop-picking centre where the variety Fuggles was first grown, was once at the forefront of the Wealden ironworking industry, and in the 17th century its forge and foundry was making guns for both sides of the Civil War. It has a great village green, and nearby St Margarets church is surrounded by oast houses. Pretty East Peckham, another hop-growing haven and also a village with many orchards, has the River Bourne running through it; St Michaels church is just north of the village.
The Tamworth Two
Brenchley village has 13th-century All Saints church, an avenue of 400-year-old yew trees and a fine High Street with timber houses. It was home to Kentish rebel leader Wat Tyler. Matfield village has the largest village green in Kent and a pond, and is famous for the Tamworth Two, a couple of pigs who escaped on their way to the slaughterhouse, their bravery rewarded by blissful retirement on a Matfield Farm.
Paddock Wood is fairly central in Kent and within a few miles of Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. It is just off the A228, which is approached from the A21, accessible via junction 5 of the M25. The station is linked to London Bridge (45 minutes) and there are good bus connections.
Satnav postcode: TN12 6EN