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Kent Towns and Villages: Spotlight on Tenterden

PUBLISHED: 16:12 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013

Kent Towns and Villages: Spotlight on Tenterden

Kent Towns and Villages: Spotlight on Tenterden

This former Cinque Port celebrating its Folk Festival this month is today a fine town with elegant shops and lots to do...

This former Cinque Port celebrating its Folk Festival this month is today a fine town with elegant shops and lots to do...

This warmly welcoming, lively town with beautiful buildings and a broad high street with tree-lined grass verges offers a huge variety of interesting shops and a colourful history.

For four days in September/October theres the Tenterden Folk Festival,the 19th so far, featuring the creamof British Folk artists at a number of venues, plus Morris Dancing in the streets, craft stalls and a Music Fayre.

The town has a fantastic museum, Britains finest example of a rural light railway and a strong theatrical tradition: theres a museum devoted to Victorian actress Ellen Terry and Sir Donald Sinden, who lives nearby, has givenhis name to the towns theatre.

Getting around

The majority of town is centred aroundthe long, wide High Street, which is mostly reasonably flat. There are five convenient car parks and on-street parking. The buildings date from Elizabethan to Georgian, many of them built using mathematical tiles, designed to mimic bricks, and there are also a number of white-painted weather-boarded exteriors.

Interesting ancient structures include The Lemon Tree restaurant, which used to be a Wealden Hall house, and the Caf Rouge restaurant, originally theold Eight Bells inn, in addition to the 16th-century Woolpack Hotel besideSt Mildreds church.

Theres also a quaint parade of shops called Manor Row, built on the site of a medieval manor house. The excellent Tourist Information Centre is in The Gateway in the High Street, and justoff Station Road is Tenterden museum.

Where to eat and drink

Richard Phillips at Chapel Down(01580 761616) is a truly inspiring dining experience in stunning surroundings (winner of Kent Restaurant Awards 2009 see My Town), and Oaks restaurant at Little Silver Country Hotel (01233 850321) specialises in using local ingredients and preparations, and has the motto taste the good life. The London Beach Hotel Restaurant(01580 766279) creates outstanding, beautifully presented dishes.

Great pubs that also serve good food include The White Lion (01580 765077), originally a coaching inn, offering real ales and fine wine, andThe William Caxton Pub and Restaurant (01580 764417), with a beer garden and inglenook fireplace.

Where to shop

The High Street and its quirky side streets offer an excellent range of mostly independent, and extremely stylish, shops selling feelgood items such as jewellery, clocks, antiques, furniture, gifts and cards. There are also plenty of upmarket fashion outlets and home-improvement stores, including those selling furniture, tableware and soft furnishings, not to mention Webbs comprehensive ironmongery store.

There are also many specialist foodstores and delicatessens, a regular street market on Fridays outside the town hall and a country market on Friday mornings in St Mildreds Church Hall.Local specialist food shops include: Silcocks Farm Shop (01580 762395), The Potato Shop (01580 766866), Gibbet Oak Farm Shop (01580 763938) and Raspberry Oast Cherries (01580 762698).

Considering a move?

There are excellent schools, good travel links and splendid surroundings, but fairly high property prices reflect this. One- and two-bedroom flats are in the region of 154,000 and 184,000 respectively, while a two-bedroom house is around 218,000 and a three-bedroom semi costs around 313,000, with a four-bedroom detached house valued at upwards of 497,000.

Traders Talking



Ingrid Willson

Ingrid Willson, her son Jamie (pictured) and Abigail Turner run Tenterden House Interiors (01580 764481), which comprises 16 showrooms set over three floors in a grand building on the High Street, selling a mixture of hand-made furniture, gifts and accessories. Weve been trading here for 27 years, says Ingrid. Commercially its a good town, with lots going on, and we get tourists and serious buyers. The development is sympathetically done and hasnt harmed our lovely wide high street. I wouldnt change anything at all except the parking facilities: one-hour parking on the road simply isnt long enough.

Kelly McCloughlan

Kelly runs Thumbelina Toy Shop (01580 763303) from a beautiful 15th-century building. Its a treasure trove for children from nought to 15, specialising in the kind of beautifully designed, traditional wooden toys and soft baby playthings that you wont find anywhere else. Weve been trading for just over a year, says Kelly. What I love about Tenterden is its quaintness, the beautiful buildings and shops, the lovely people. Our customers have a real appreciation for our unique, quirky high-quality toys and theyre so charming and friendly. Parking is an issue, but otherwise Tenterden has no problems at all.

Ingrid Willson
Ingrid Willson, her son Jamie (pictured above) and Abigail Turner run Tenterden House Interiors (01580 764481), which comprises 16 showrooms set over three floors in a grand building on the High Street, selling a mixture of hand-made furniture, gifts and accessories. Weve been trading here for 27 years, says Ingrid. Commercially its a good town, with lots going on, and we get tourists and serious buyers. The development is sympathetically done and hasnt harmed our lovely wide high street. I wouldnt change anything at all except the parking facilities: one-hour parking on the road simply isnt long enough.

Kelly McCloughlan
Kelly runs Thumbelina Toy Shop (01580 763303) from a beautiful 15th-century building. Its a treasure trove for children from nought to 15, specialising in the kind of beautifully designed, traditional wooden toys and soft baby playthings that you wont find anywhere else. Weve been trading for just over a year, says Kelly. What I love about Tenterden is its quaintness, the beautiful buildings and shops, the lovely people. Our customers have a real appreciation for our unique, quirky high-quality toys and theyre so charming and friendly. Parking is an issue, but otherwise Tenterden has no problems at all.

Tenterden Folk Festival

29 Sep - 2 Oct

29 September: 7.30pm at the Assembly Halls, concert with Ashley Hutchings, Blair Dunlop and Steve OKane, Fiona Mc Bain and Barron Brady.

30 September: Barn Dance at the Tenterden Club, guest band

English Rebellion. Among artists performing are: Adrian O, The Askew Sisters, Band of Two, Kimbers Men, Liam Robinson, Mainbrace, May Humphrey and Anahata, Pete Castle, Pete Morton, Vic Ellis, Andy Smythe Band, Bo Foakes, Bob Kenward, Chris Roche, John Barden, Malcolm Ward, Peter Collins, Roger Resche, Spare Parts Concertina band, Travelling Folk, Vic and Tina Smith.

Village Watch

High Halden
The parish was recorded in the Domesday Book, and parts of the Norman Manor house can be seen at Tiddenden Farm. St Mary the Virgin church has an unusual oak-built tower and spire and dates from the 1300s. The Chequers Inn (1620) was a haunt of 18th-century smuggling gangs.

Rolvenden
A thriving small village on a hill with a wide high street, shops and pubs, whose main claim to fame is the C M Booth Motor Museum and the fact that Great Maytham Hall was the inspiration for Francis Hodgson Burnetts novel The Secret Garden.

Smallhythe
Once Tenterdens major port and centre for ship building, now best known for the Ellen Terry museum, housed in Smallhythe Place, once the ports Customs House. In the 1600s the River Rother completed its silting up, leaving Smallhythe high and dry.

Biddenden
Pretty village with a quaint green and many black-and-white and tile-hung cottages. Close to Sissinghurst, its famous for the Maids of Biddenden, twins born in 1100 who bequeathed land to the poor in perpetuity.

Benenden
Best known for Benenden School, the private girls schools attended by the Princess Royal. Theres a large green beside the beautiful parish church of St Georges and a few shops.

Reading Street and Ebony
Reading Street is a quiet village with a church, pub and garden centre, on a promontory overlooking Romney Marsh. Its near Ebony (an island in Saxon times), a bank of land joining Reading Street to the Isle of Oxney.

Getting there

Tenterden is about eight miles south west of Ashford, on the A28 between Ashford and Hastings, and less than an hours driving from the M25, via the M20 (exit junction 9). The nearest mainline railway stations are Headcorn and Ashford international.

Satnav postcode: TN30 6AU

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