6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

10 reasons to visit West Malling & Kings Hill

PUBLISHED: 15:45 07 May 2019

Hope, a bronze sculpture by Sarah Cunnington, was unveiled in 2001 (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Hope, a bronze sculpture by Sarah Cunnington, was unveiled in 2001 (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Close neighbours, one ancient, one modern - meet the very different West Kent neighbours

1. Drink and dine

In West Malling look out for restaurants including ID Oriental, Pad Thai, The Swan, Amano, Frank's restaurant and mussel bar and The Farm House, along with cafés Bean Rush and Toast. The Hungry Guest was a runner up in the family dining category of our Kent Life Food & Drink Awards 2018. Drink at The Malling Jug, The Bull Inn, The Five Pointed Star, The Joiners Arms or The Scared Crow, or at the new Cow Shed cocktail bar. Kings Hill has The Spitfire pub, an Indian restaurant, a Chinese and a fish and chip shop.

2. History hit

West Malling High Street has been well preserved and many modern businesses are run from buildings dating back centuries. Malling Abbey was founded in 1090 and is still home to a group of Benedictine nuns, although there are Heritage Open Days for the public each September. The local history society has set up a number of blue plaques; see www.visitkent.co.uk for more details.

3. Let's go shopping

Interesting independents include Varoshe bespoke jewellery, Smith & Webb Cookshop, Down Swan Street gift shop, Chocolate Umbrella sweet shop, The Old Clock Shop, Dressed by Dee, Eves boutique, Story Of My Dress bridal showroom, West Malling Flowers, Number 39, Danmar kitchens and interiors, Martin Wilde jewellers, The Sewing Room, Soles With Hearts children's footwear, Monks menswear, Andrew Smith Jewellers and many more. Don't forget to explore the Mill Yard and the tiny Abbey Arcade.

The sculpture A Different Ball Game by Kevin Atherton consists of a 10ft diameter reflective ball being pushed in different directions by three life-size bronze figures cast from local people (photo: Manu Palomeque)The sculpture A Different Ball Game by Kevin Atherton consists of a 10ft diameter reflective ball being pushed in different directions by three life-size bronze figures cast from local people (photo: Manu Palomeque)

4. Green spaces

Formerly the grounds of Douces Manor, 52-acre Manor Park Country Park includes a lake, stream and four fields. A popular spot for family walks, it is Green Flag accredited and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. The lake is home to swans, coots, grebes, moorhens and ducks. The Green Café is close to the excellent children's play area.

5. Aviation ace

Kings Hill was once the site of RAF West Malling, which played a key role in the Second World War. The original Art Deco control tower has been refurbished and now serves as a community space. Outdoor art has been used to point out its aviation history too, with a fascinating installation outside the control tower. There's a new aviation-themed playground opposite the community centre.

7. Farm fresh

The pretty Malling Abbey Cascade on Swan Street (photo: Manu Palomeque)The pretty Malling Abbey Cascade on Swan Street (photo: Manu Palomeque)

In nearby Offham, the charity Spadeworks is a farm shop, café and garden centre all in one, run to help people with learning difficulties develop new skills. Both the farm shop and café feature produce grown on the site and locally. West Malling's Farmers' Market takes place in the town every fourth Sunday.

8. Ancient keep

A fortified residence built for Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, between 1077-1108, St Leonard's Tower stands on its own and has little recorded history before the 1700s. By 1782 it was being used by farmers for storing hops and in the 20th century it was taken on by English Heritage.

9. What a waterfall

The much-photographed Malling Abbey Cascade on Swan Street was originally part of a medieval building repurposed as a decorative waterfall in the 1700s. The blue plaque beside it remembers a visit to this site by the painter JMW Turner.

10. Clear lakes

Leybourne Lakes were created in 2004 from former quarries. With 93ha of woodland, grassland and marshland to explore, it's perfect for family walks and has clear freshwater lakes. A watersports centre offers scuba diving, open water swimming, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking. There's a mobile café, children's play area and cycle paths. Leybourne is home to the RSPCA animal centre.

More from Out & About

Embrace the warm reds and golds lighting up a National Trust garden near you as summer takes a final bow

Read more
Monday, September 9, 2019

Kent has many castles and stately homes, but we have hand selected the ten best castles in Kent for you to visit

Read more
Monday, September 9, 2019

Seven stunning wildflower meadows have been created across Maidstone with the help of volunteers

Read more

With its important history and a reputation for fine food and drink, let's find our way around Faversham

Read more

Giving its name to the world's most popular snack, Sandwich is filled with history and natural beauty

Read more

There's a truly continental feel to this regal coastal town. With plenty of historic sites to explore and healthy outdoor activities to enjoy, let's take a tour of Ramsgate

Read more

Kent resorts are well represented in a new book on the development of seaside towns from the earliest days to the present upturn

Read more

An iconic part of our seaside resorts, we ask some of Kent's lucky beach hut users what they love about their 'sheds beside the sea'

Read more
Monday, August 19, 2019

From rambles through the Kent Downs to pretty village walks and urban strolls, this guide to some of Kent's prettiest walking routes is essential for the intrepid adventurer

Read more
Monday, August 5, 2019

A giant ice cream was created along with 99 free ice creams being given out on the day to celebrate the 99th anniversary and countdown to 100 years of the park

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life