JANUARY SALE Subscribe for just £5 today CLICK HERE

A weekend in Maidstone

PUBLISHED: 16:47 27 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:22 20 February 2013

With oodles of history, a scenic river park, great shopping, a cool theatre and a plethora of places to eat out, Maidstone has plenty to offer the weekend visitor in search of a winter break

Recently voted the second-most attractive place in the country, this thriving county town of Kent has a larger shopping centre than Bluewater, beautiful riverside scenery, plenty of open spaces and its close to beautiful Leeds Castle.
Youll find plenty of history here: Bank Street has a medieval street layout and Elizabethan shops, All Saints Church was built in 1348, there are timber-framed buildings in Lower Stone Street, and in Gabriels Hill youll find the oldest shoe shop in England.
New Maidstone is chic and thrilling, encompassing shopping centres at Fremlin Walk (on the riverside site of the Victorian brewery), the Chequers Shopping Centre, and the upmarket outfitters in Royal Star Arcade, plus plenty of individual independents in the High Street and surrounds.
Scenic Maidstone includes Maidstone Millennium River Park, a six-mile stretch alongside the Medway, where you can take a trip on a riverboat in the summertime. Other open spaces are Mote Park and Brenchley Gardens, in the grounds of former Chillington Manor (now a museum).

Past and present
Maidstone has played host to a number of doomed armed uprisings: Wat Tyler led the ill-fated Peasants Revolt from the town in 1381; and in 1554, Sir Thomas Wyatt raised an ultimately unsuccessful rebellion in the Lower High Street. Gabriels Hill was the site of the climax of the Civil War Battle of Maidstone, when Parliamentary forces defeated the towns Royalists.
Maidstone was home to Lawrence Washington, an ancestor of George Washington; the stars and stripes on the American flag are borrowed from the Washington familys crest of arms.
Maddestane grew up at the junction of the rivers Len and Medway, and Jutes conquered the Britons in a battle at nearby Aylesford. By the 13th century, Maidstone was a thriving market town, local industries being wool dying, Kentish ragstone quarrying, stonemasonry and tanning.
The Black Death of 1348-9 decimated the population, yet at around this time All Saints Church was erected, as was the Archbishops Palace. During the 1500s wool manufacture prospered, but a century later had fallen into decline; thread-making and brewing filled the vacuum, and later on paper-making became a growth industry.

Looking around
The oldest, central, part of town is bordered at the top by Fremlin Walk, Chequers to the east, while to the west, the River Medway forms a natural boundary. The Visitor Information Centre (01622 602169) is in the Town Hall, a beautiful Georgian building in Bank Street, where youll also find ancient buildings, an elaborate monument to Queen Victoria and four white statues set into niches above the post office.
Archbishops Palace (now used as the Kent Register Office for civil marriages and public records) is in a lovely spot, bordering the river, next to ancient All Saints Church. Beside here is the Maidstone Millennium River Park, from where you can cross the Lockmeadow Millennium Bridge to reach Lockmeadow Leisure Complex and Market.

More from Out & About

Friday, January 24, 2020

The season of romance is in the air and with fairytale castles, literary tales and iconic White Cliffs, where better to pop the question than in the Garden of England? Here are 10 of Kent's perfect places to propose

Read more

When funds are low and the family is going stir-crazy stuck indoors, here is some fun, free stuff to get you through

Read more
Monday, January 20, 2020

The beautiful Hever Castle will launch snowdrop season with a talk followed by a woodland walk

Read more

Regularly voted one of Kent's best places to live, and with easy access to London, let's celebrate Sevenoaks

Read more
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The elusive snowdrop can be hard to find and before you know it, they're gone again, so we saved you the trouble and found some beautiful spots in Kent to go for a walk among the snowdrops

Read more

Want to get fitter, feed your brain or start a new hobby? The National Trust can help kickstart your 2020 plans

Read more

The run-up to Christmas can be stressful, so escape for a while by spending time reconnecting with nature

Read more
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Farmer Sandra Fagg adores Christmas and now she and husband Mike run their own reindeer centre and grotto

Read more
Friday, December 6, 2019

Counteract all that festive over-indulgence with a winter walk through National Trust-owned Kentish countryside

Read more
Friday, December 6, 2019

The swashbuckling panto opens this month to Dartford's Orchard Theatre and is sure to keep the whole family laughing

Read more
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