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10 reasons you must visit Hadlow

PUBLISHED: 10:27 11 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:27 11 October 2016

The pretty high street (pics: Manu Palomeque)

The pretty high street (pics: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

We have gathered the 10 reasons why you should visit the lovely Medway valley village of Hadlow

1. Rapunzel’s tower

Driving through Hadlow you can hardly fail to notice the strange Gothic tower looming over the village. Built in 1838 as part of the now demolished Hadlow Castle, it is in fact a folly built for industrialist Walter May. The tallest folly in England, at 53 metres it is higher than Nelson’s Column, with a huge octagonal lantern at the top. Badly damaged in the Great Storm of 1987, it was bought by the local council in 2006 in order to protect it. Sadly, after a complete refurbishment and sale to the Vivat Trust – who until recently used it as unique holiday accommodation – the folly has recently been put up for sale.

Go to www.hadlowtower.com for visiting information as there were regular open days over the summer.

Grade II listed St Mary's Church is open most weekday afternoons from 2-4pm and is well worth a visitGrade II listed St Mary's Church is open most weekday afternoons from 2-4pm and is well worth a visit

2. College gardens

Hadlow College has been around since 1960 and is a further and higher education centre specialising in subjects such as garden design, horticulture, animal management and agriculture. Visitors to the college can see some of the amazing work they do at the on-site garden centre, Broadview. As well as selling plants, many of which have been grown by students, there is a lovely public garden to explore and a charming tea room. The gardens are free to visit throughout the year and are home to the National Collection of hellebores, at their best in January and February; a wonderful winter boost.

Visit www.broadviewgardens.co.uk and www.hadlow.ac.uk.

Pedestrianised path to the tallest folly in EnglandPedestrianised path to the tallest folly in England

3. Eat and drink

It’s only a small village but there are some great places to eat and drink here. A firm favourite for many years now, Casa Portuguesa (01732 851489) is a superb Portuguese restaurant in the heart of Hadlow Square. Also highly rated by locals is The Two Brewers (01732 850267) on Maidstone Road, which serves home-cooked pub grub and if it’s a pretty tea room set in glorious cottage gardens you’re after, then Hadlow has that too – in the form of the pop-up Gingerbread Teashop & Gallery on the High Street. It’s usually only open one day a week over the summer and is part of an art gallery, so you have to time your trip well but for tea, home-made cakes and a special setting, there’s nothing like it. Search ‘Gingerbread teashop’ on Facebook.

Casa Portuguesa specialises in shellfish and has been in the heart of Hadlow for 12 yearsCasa Portuguesa specialises in shellfish and has been in the heart of Hadlow for 12 years

4. Lavender fields

Downderry Nursery isn’t at its best at this time of year but each summer it transforms into a riot of purple, as one of the world’s largest and most important collections of lavender species. Open to the public on regular days between May and September, visitors can tour the nursery, buy plants and find something to tempt them in the gift shop. They’ve also won Gold for their displays at both the Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower Shows this year.

Visit www.downderry-nursery.co.uk.

Come back in spring for lambing season at Hadlow CollegeCome back in spring for lambing season at Hadlow College

5. Golf for all

Hidden away in the lanes between rural Tonbridge and Hadlow is Poult Wood, one of the finest ‘pay and play’ golf centres in the south of England. With 18 and 9-hole courses, junior golf, a driving range and tuition, it’s an extremely accessible way to get into, improve or just enjoy your golf. There’s even a PGA-approved Pro Shop, operated by David Copsey Golf Stores, offering a wide range of golf equipment for sale or hire.

Visit www.tmactive.co.uk.

Set in a rural heartland, you'll probably meet a farm vehicle on the road at some pointSet in a rural heartland, you'll probably meet a farm vehicle on the road at some point

6. Spring lambs

Each spring Hadlow College opens its gates to thousands of families over a weekend in March. The popular Lambing Weekend event offers visitors a chance to see newborn lambs but also to see some of the college’s other inhabitants, including llamas, pigs and goats. Tour the animal management centre, take part in a range of events, climb on board for a tractor ride and enjoy some local produce; it’s the biggest event in Hadlow’s calendar.

For next year’s dates visit www.hadlow.ac.uk.

7. Luxurious retreat

Oxon Hoath is a former stately home on the outskirts of Hadlow. Built more than 600 years ago for a Knight of King Henry V, the 73-acre estate was once a royal park for oxen and deer. Over the years the house has been altered, most notably in 1846 when French architect Anthony Salvin was commissioned to build the prominent mansard dome and château tower. Still privately owned, the house became a retreat and a conference centre in 1999 offering a range of events including wedding receptions. It’s best known for its popular retreat weekends, where you can relax, indulge in a range of treatments and classes, enjoy organic vegetarian meals and take in the quiet, delightful grounds.

Visit www.oxonhoath.co.uk.

8. Lovely walks

With a rural setting in the Bourne Valley (the River Bourne, a tributary of the River Medway, runs through the village), there are plenty of lovely walks to be enjoyed in and around Hadlow. The local parish council has put together leaflets detailing a few routes. The ‘Hadlow Village Amble’ is a pleasant stroll of less than two miles in a circular route, while the ‘Hadlow Parish Ramble’ and the ‘Hadlow Hop’ are both half-day excursions at around eight miles each. The ‘Hop’, as its name would suggest, focuses on the area’s hop farming and brewing past.

Visit www.hadlowpc.co.uk.

9. Vintage gem

As a small village, Hadlow is hardly the place to head for if you’re keen on shopping but there is a treat in store if you’re a fan of vintage. Set on the High Street and open Wednesday to Saturday, Weathered & Worn is a shop offering beautiful vintage furniture and homeware. A mother and daughter operation, the pair travel all over the country and across the channel to find interesting items which really show their age, carrying out the minimal restoration to retain character. And cleverly, the shop entices visitors by doubling up as a quaint coffee shop.

Visit www.weatheredandworn.me.

10. Secret garden

If you’ve ever headed towards Hadlow from the M20, you may have noticed a sign to Great Comp Garden, Kent Life’s September cover star. It’s something of a hidden gem which may not be on everyone’s radar but if you haven’t visited this stunning and rather quirky seven-acre garden, it’s high time you did. The gardens of a 17th-century manor house, it is home to an Italian garden, romantic ruins, woodland walks and one of the finest collections of salvias in the country. Privately owned, it also puts on events throughout the year. In October it’s a riot of autumn colours and holds a special weekend (8 and 9 October) to celebrate them in all their glory.

Visit www.greatcompgarden.co.uk.

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