10 reasons to visit Tenterden

PUBLISHED: 12:19 01 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:19 01 April 2019

The present Town Hall was built between 1790 and 1792 (photo: Manu Palomeque)

The present Town Hall was built between 1790 and 1792 (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Known as the ‘Jewel of the Weald’, it’s one of our prettiest country towns

1. Well conserved

Tenterden has the largest Conservation Area in the Ashford District, so most of its town centre has remained unchanged over the years. Known for its timber-framed and weather-boarded buildings, many with ‘mathematical tiles’, don’t miss the 12th-century St Mildred’s Church, the Old Grammar School, a Wealden Hall House and the Georgian Town Hall. Pick up a Heritage Trail leaflet at the Tourist Information Centre.

A glimpse of 12th-century St Mildred’s Church, with its distinctive tower, looming over the High Street (photo: Manu Palomeque)A glimpse of 12th-century St Mildred’s Church, with its distinctive tower, looming over the High Street (photo: Manu Palomeque)

2. Drink local

This fertile area has always grown grapes for English wine, apples for cider and hops for beer; little has changed. Visit England’s biggest wine producer, Chapel Down, for vineyard tours, wine tastings, a shop and The Swan restaurant upstairs. The Old Dairy Brewery makes award-winning beers from a unit at Tenterden Station, and there’s also Nightingale Cider at Nightingale Farm Shop, among other local drinks producers.

While visiting Tenterden, drop in on England'’s biggest wine producer, Chapel Down (photo: Manu Palomeque)While visiting Tenterden, drop in on England'’s biggest wine producer, Chapel Down (photo: Manu Palomeque)

3. Varied shopping

A wealth of independent shops, particularly for the home, include Tenterden House, Manor Row Interiors, Kagu, White’s Jewellers (thought to be Kent’s oldest), The Bathroom Shop, Handmade Rugs and Webbs of Tenterden. Tenterden recently welcomed Electric Palace Records, thought to be the smallest record shop in Kent; other recent additions are Judges Bakery and Chegworth Valley farm shop and deli. Tenterden Garden Centre is a treat for plant lovers and local farm shops include Silcocks in St Michaels, Nightingale Farm Shop and The Potato Shop.

Tenterden's broad, tree-lined High Street is a boon for shoppers (photo: Manu Palomeque)Tenterden's broad, tree-lined High Street is a boon for shoppers (photo: Manu Palomeque)

4. Nostalgic railway

The Kent and East Sussex heritage railway is based here and runs along a 10-mile stretch of line all the way to Bodiam, using part of an old rural light railway. With steam and diesel engines, as well as the chance to hop off at Northiam or Bodiam, it’s the town’s biggest attraction. Special events coming up are the popular 1940s Weekend (18-9 May) and the CAMRA Real Ale and Cider Festival (14-5 June).

The Kent and East Sussex heritage railway is based in the town (photo: Manu Palomeque)The Kent and East Sussex heritage railway is based in the town (photo: Manu Palomeque)

5. Eating out

Try La Cantina di Tenterden, The French Gourmet, Ozgur, The Vine, The Woolpack, The Lemon Tree, The William Caxton and The White Lion. Italian restaurant Montalbano has opened a café and gelato parlour (Bottega Montalbano); other cafés include Bluebell Coffee House, Savannah, The Secret Pantry and Peggotty’s Tea Shoppe. A recent addition is This Ancient Boro ale house and tapas bar. The annual Food & Drink Festival (17-19 May) is held at the Recreation Ground.

Popular Italian restaurant Montalbano has also opened a café and gelato parlour (photo: Manu Palomeque)Popular Italian restaurant Montalbano has also opened a café and gelato parlour (photo: Manu Palomeque)

6. Theatre milestone

Smallhythe Place was the home of Victorian actress Ellen Terry. Now in the care of the National Trust, the 16th-century house, its gardens and thatched barn in the grounds that was converted into a small theatre have all been perfectly preserved. In 2019 the Trust is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the creation of this museum and the 80th of it being bequeathed.

Smallhythe Place was the home of Victorian stage actress Ellen Terry (photo: National Trust Images)Smallhythe Place was the home of Victorian stage actress Ellen Terry (photo: National Trust Images)

7. Fascinating past

Tenterden Museum (Easter to Oct) offers visitors the chance to explore local agricultural, industrial and social history, including the town’s role as a Cinque Port and its hop-picking past. There’s an archive system, plus maps and models showing how Tenterden has changed.

8. Big events

As well as the big Food & Drink Festival in May, there is the Tenterden Traditional May Fayre (6 May), also held on the Recreation Ground. The Wealden Literary Festival, held at Boldshaves Garden in Woodchurch, is a wonderful experience for lovers of nature and literature (29-30 June) and Tenterden Folk Festival (3-6 October) will see concerts and events right across the town.

9. Farmyard fun

The Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch, one of Kent’s biggest farm attractions, 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, children’s play barn, indoor soft play, woodland walks and tractor rides. Now is the perfect time of year to visit the centre’s spring babies.

10. Great gardens

Famous for its bluebell displays, Hole Park in nearby Rolvenden is open daily in spring. The 16-acre garden set within 200 acres of classic parkland has been created by the Barham family, who have lived at Hole Park for four generations. There’s a plant stall and the Coach House Tea Rooms. Dogs are welcome on short leads.

Hole Park Gardens in nearby Rolvenden are open every day during spring (photo: Leigh Clapp)Hole Park Gardens in nearby Rolvenden are open every day during spring (photo: Leigh Clapp)

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