10 great reasons to visit Tenterden
PUBLISHED: 13:46 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:46 27 March 2018
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Celebrated as one of Kent's most attractive towns, with plenty of historic buildings and attractions that bring visitors from far and wide, Tenterden has plenty to boast about
1. Pretty as a picture
One of our prettiest rural towns, Tenterden has the largest Conservation Area in the Ashford District, meaning that much of its charming High Street and the adjoining lanes have remained unchanged over the years. With dozens of listed buildings, many of them timber framed, look out for the Georgian Town Hall, the imposing medieval St Mildred’s Church, the Old Grammar School and the 15th-century coaching inn called The Woolpack. Pick up a Heritage Trail leaflet from the Tourist Information Centre to learn more.
2. Vintage trains
The popular Kent and East Sussex heritage railway runs on a 10-mile stretch of line between Tenterden and Bodiam, using part of an old rural light railway closed in the early sixties. With steam and diesel engines, as well as the chance to hop off at Northiam or Bodiam, there are also fun events throughout the year, including the nostalgic 1940s Weekend (19 and 20 May) and Hop Festival (8 and 9 September).
3. Rare breed indeed
One of Kent’s biggest farm attractions, the Rare Breeds Centre at nearby Woodchurch offers a fun-packed day out for all the family. The centre is home to dozens of rare and native breeds of cows, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry, as well as birds of prey, a small animal petting barn and a number of creepy crawlies. A children’s play barn, indoor soft play, woodland walks and tractor rides add to the fun. And in the summer there are regular pig-racing events.
4. Eating out
There are lots of great places to eat in Tenterden, with a few of our favourites being Montalbano, La Cantina di Tenterden, The French Gourmet and Ozgur. Good pubs include The Vine, The Woolpack, The William Caxton and The White Lion. For something lighter, try one of the many cafés, including Hunnybeez, The Nutmeg, The Secret Pantry, Mr Bean and Savannah. Afternoon tea at Peggotty’s, now under new ownership, is a real treat. Visit Nightingale Cider (part of Gibbet Oak Farm shop) for home-grown produce and of course its own ciders. With a wealth of producers on its doorstep, Tenterden also hosts a popular Food & Drink Festival each year (18 to 20 May).
5. Where to shop
Tenterden boasts a wealth of independent shops and is a particularly good if you’re looking for something a little bit different for your home. More by Design sells high-end, hand-made rugs and cushions, wallpapers and fabrics as well as tube lights, wall art and prints. Or look out for Tenterden House and its newer sister business Manor Row Interiors, both owned by the same family and between them offering everything from hand-made furniture to upholstery, lighting and accessories. If you’re after a bespoke bathroom, then take your ideas to The Bathroom Shop and the team will design and build your dream version. Tenterden Garden Centre, bought by the Boult family in 1999, now attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year and is a must-visit for the green fingered.
6. Leisure time
One of Tenterden’s lesser-known gems is its impressive leisure centre. Its pool is a big attraction for families, with a wave machine, flume slide, giant inflatables and a pirate beach complete with wrecked pirate ship. Tenterden Leisure Centre has a gym, sports halls, courts, treatments and a café, as well as a programme of classes and activities. Set beside the town’s Recreation Ground, your little ones will enjoy the children’s play park or make use of the tennis courts and football pitch.
7. English wine
There’s a long tradition of wine growing in Tenterden but it’s only in the last few years that local company Chapel Down has shot to stardom as England’s biggest wine producer. Having branched out to also create the award-winning range of Curious ciders and beers as well as a new gin and vodka brand, the company has its visitor centre and shop in Small Hythe, just outside Tenterden. You can tour the vineyards, see how the wine is made and then try some for yourself in the tasting room, as well as pop upstairs for an excellent lunch at The Swan restaurant.
8. Sound of music
Sadly, the volunteers behind popular music festival Tentertainment have decided to no longer stage the three-day event at the Recreation Ground. Taking this year off entirely, next year they intend holding a series of smaller music events around the town and are continuing to look for an alternative venue for the larger event in future years. Tenterden Folk Festival will, however, take place as usual (4-7 October), when several local venues will host concerts, sing-a-rounds, Morris dancers and a craft fair.
9. History hit
It may be small, but Tenterden Museum is packed with fascinating historic facts about the area. Housed in a two-storey weather boarded building, the last of a kind of industrial building common in the late 19th century, it opened in 1976 and is run entirely by volunteers. Visitors can explore the agricultural, social and industrial history of Tenterden and its surrounding villages and buy place-stamped souvenirs in the museum shop. Open from Easter to October, the museum is popular with school groups, who come here to learn about everything from Tenterden’s role as one of the Cinque Ports to its hop picking past.
10. Theatre treat
Managed by the National Trust and dating back to the late early 16th century, Smallhythe Place was the home of famous Victorian actress Ellen Terry. Opened to the public in 1929 by Terry’s daughter, that year she also transformed the 17th-century thatched barn in its gardens into a small theatre space, which she mainly used each year for a memorial performance on the anniversary of her mother’s death (this year the 90th anniversary will be marked). The house and its pretty gardens have been preserved and still contain many of the costumes and theatrical items Terry collected in her life. Throughout April a new exhibition ‘Triumphant Women’ will be on display, celebrating the women of Smallhythe in the Suffrage movement. ‘Edy Craig: Women, Suffrage and the Theatre’ will be on show in the Barn Theatre and green room, while ‘The Shakespearean Lectures of Ellen Terry’ will be exhibited in the main house.