Good reasons to visit Edenbridge, Kent

PUBLISHED: 01:16 28 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:12 20 February 2013



Steeped in ancient history and with royal connections, Edenbridge comes into its own every November with its much-anticipated bonfire spectacular

Good reasons to visit Edenbridge, Kent

Steeped in ancient history and with royal connections, Edenbridge comes into its own every November with its much-anticipated bonfire spectacular

1.Hot Guys

On 5 November the Edenbridge Bonfire Society will organise a 2,000-strong torchlight procession of floats, tableaus and marching bands that will pass through the town, culminating in a spectacular firework and the burning of 30ft-high effigies of Guy Fawkes and a topical celebrity, whose identity is kept secret until only days before the event (note: road closures in town from 6pm). At the head of the procession theres a Bishop of Bonfire, followed by the effigies: Guy Fawkes is accompanied by Ann Boleyn, with her head under her arm, and the unlucky celebrity. Tickets from Edenbridge Bookshop, 01732 862180.

2.Nesting coots and moorhens

Bough Beech reservoir, three miles to the east, is a nature reserve, popular for bird watching and a haunt for migrating osprey. Theres a 19th-century oast house visitor centre and a shop. You can see nesting coots and moorhens by the bridge, and masses of other wildlife, from ducks and nesting herons to glow worms, bats and reed warblers. From 1 Nov-Mar the reservoir is open Sun only, 10am-4pm, Apr-Oct on Wed, weekends and bank holidays, daytime only.

3.Medieval museum

Eden Valley Museum (01732 868102) is housed in timber-framed Doggetts Farmhouse, otherwise known as Church House (see far right). A Grade II listed building, built around 1380 when the farm was the principal employer in the area, the original timber framing has been covered up with brick. Theres a shop with items of local interest, books and leaflets, plus recordings of people talking of life in other eras, displays of the history of iron-making, tanning, cricket-ball making, shopping and accounts of famous local people. Phone to check opening times.

4.Really fit

Edenbridge Leisure Centre, 01732 865665, offers a wide range of facilities, including a wellness gym, exercise studio, 25-metre swimming pool and teaching pool, multi-purpose sports hall, all-weather pitch, squash courts, crche and caf, Badminton, table tennis, short-matt bowls, and short tennis and free parking, which
is a real plus. Swimming classes cater
for all abilities and ages, also exercise and Aqua fit classes.

5.Just a minute

St Peter and St Paul parish church dates from Norman times and has memorials to illustrious local families, including Holmden and Jemet. There is a stained-glass window in the Martin chapel designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, a clock with only an hour hand, and a fine font and Jacobean pulpit. Arts-and-Crafts architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott is buried in the cemetery, and the lych gate was designed by a local carpenter. The roof in the chancel has partially collapsed due to death-watch beetle attack and this part is currently boarded up.

6.Bridge the gap

The Great Stone Bridge is thought to have inspired the towns name, and this beautiful structure across the river is on the High Street to the edge of town. The first bridge here was timber, built by Saxon Abbot Eadhelm, a pack horse bridge was built next and in
1834 the present stone bridge was constructed. George Langridge and Augustus Corke, two early bridge wardens, are commemorated by an 1836 stone plaque, and the lamps were provided by the Great Stone Bridge Trust to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

7.Royal connections nearby

Nearby Chiddingstone has a record of a village shop dated 1453, which was bought in 1517 by Ann Boleyns father, Sir Thomas Boleyn. Quaint and steeped in history, it boasts a row of timbered Tudor houses, a beautiful church, the popular Castle Inn, and an antique shop, plus magnificent Chiddingstone Castle, with 35 acres of grounds and wonderful artefacts and paintings and displays (closed in winter). Part of the village was once owned by
Sir Edward de Burgh, first husband of one of Henry VIIIs wives, Katharine Parr, after which the famous local Streatfeild family were the local bigwigs until 1939, when the Streatfeilds sold the village to the National Trust.

8.Ancient inns

Edenbridge High Streets beautiful ancient buildings include Ye Olde Crown inn, dating from 1375, which has elaborate decorative timbers, as well as a curious inn sign that stretches across the road. At 94 and 96 High Street you can see an attractive Wealden Hall House; this split property started life in the 16th century as two separate buildings built 50 years apart, which were then joined to make one house. The White Horse Inn is another timber-framed building, the timbers covered with brick, with the date 1574 and two pairs of hand shears carved into a first-floor beam. Next to this is Ebenezer chapel, built in 1808 as a Calvinist place of worship, and now used as a community caf, Bridges Pop-in centre, 01732 868186.

9.Ann Boleyns home

Hever Castle, 01732 865224, is a moated fortification dating back to the 1200s and was the family home of the Boleyns and notably Ann, Henry VIIIs second wife and mother of Elizabeth I. See 16th-century portraits, paintings, tapestries and furniture, complete with life-size figures in period costume. There are audio tours, displays of armour, a shop and visitors centre. Surrounded by 125 acres of grounds, including a yew maze, adventure playground and a beautiful lake with boating facilities, plus Ann Boleyns Walk, with centuries old trees. Winter season (Wed-Sun), 2 Nov-24 Dec (check opening times).

10.Around the church

Notable buildings near the church include the timber-framed Church Cottage, originally the Chequers Inn before becoming the Parish Poor House until it was rebuilt
as the Church School in the 1850s.
On the corner of The Square is the Priest House, once a Wealden Hall House, and numbers 2 and 4 Church Street are attractive homes with unusual tile and brick features. Farringtons Jewellers and the Edenbridge Bookshop are housed in a 1450s Wealden-style building, while the entrance to Edenbridge Bookshop is the structures original Cross passage. Next door is Honours Mill, built in the late 1700s
on the site of a medieval water mill.

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