Spotlight on: Edenbridge
PUBLISHED: 07:43 23 October 2014 | UPDATED: 07:43 23 October 2014
Celebrated for its spectacular Guy Fawkes nights, this pretty little town on the Kent/Surrey border offers history, great scenery and lots to do and see
1 Bonfire event
On 8 November the centre of town will be closed to all traffic and celebrations kick off with a torch-lit procession of decorated floats, walking parties and marching bands led by the Bishop of the Bonfire and his Choirboys and Edenbridge Bonfire Society’s effigies, Guy Fawkes and Anne Boleyn.
As well as some of the UK’s loudest and most spectacular pyrotechnics, you’ll see one of Britain’s largest free-standing effigies of the man who started it all, Guy Fawkes, as well as the Celebrity Guy, a newsworthy national or international figure whose identity remains a closely guarded secret until the event. Both stand around 30ft in height and will self-destruct in a breathtaking spectacular of explosions.
2 Hever Castle
Childhood home of Anne Boleyn, this fairytale castle (01732 865224, TN8 7NG) just three miles south east of Edenbridge attracts visitors from all over the world, keen to see where Henry VIII courted the most famous of his ill-fated wives. Boasting glorious grounds including a man-made 38-acre lake, a grand Italian garden and two mazes (children love the splashing water one), it’s the perfect setting for a family day out. And if history is your thing, step inside the castle, parts of which date back to 1270.
3 St Peter and St Paul
One of Edenbridge’s most historic and impressive buildings is the Anglican parish church dedicated to St Peter and St Paul (01732 862258, TN8 5BD). The church has a history that goes back almost 1,000 years, thanks to surviving records which show the inhabitants of Edenbridge paid a tax on it as far as back as 1120 AD. It is assumed that it replaced a Saxon church on the same site. The oldest part is the nave and the original Norman church would probably have been a narrow, low-roofed building, lit only by slit windows, one of which can be seen from outside, bricked up.
4 Stangrove Park
Every town needs a public park and Stangrove Park (TN8 5LU) is a great example. With free parking, plenty of green space and a fun play area, it’s at the heart of the community. The park is also the setting for Edenbridge Leisure Centre which has a swimming pool, gym and exercise classes.
5 EVE Gallery at Topfoto
The EVE (Eden Valley Events) gallery at Topfoto (01732 863939, TN8 6EL) is home to some fascinating exhibitions, many of which are inspired by the millions of photographs in the TopFoto archive and by the photographers who are represented there. Founded by John Topham, who lived in Edenbridge until his death in 1992, his work, much of which is studies of everyday life in the Eden Valley and the Weald, makes up the core of the collection. Until 13 November the gallery has an exhibition featuring the work of sports photographer Hy Money and from 14-27 November it’s the Three Counties Exhibition.
6 Golf clubs
The Kent and Surrey Golf Club (01732 867167, TN8 5LQ), formerly Edenbridge Golf Club, has a mostly flat, open parkland course where some 20,000 trees have been planted recently. Sweetwoods Park Golf Club (01342 850726, TN8 7AY) in nearby Cowden has invested in a new modern clubhouse and is continuously improving the golf course. And the setting for Hever Castle Golf Club (01732 700771, TN8 7NP) alone is inspiration enough at the castle’s very own 250 acre 27-hole course.
7 Eden Valley Museum
Run for the community by volunteers from the community, many of whom are members of the Edenbridge and District Historical Society, this little museum set in a medieval farmhouse brings the history of the Eden Valley to life through the stories of its people, buildings and environment.
See tools used in the major industries of the town’s past, including blacksmiths, the tanning industry and cricket ball making.
It’s free to enter but with restricted opening times (01732 868102, TN8 5AR).
8 Garden inspiration
Kent Life’s head judge in our annual gardening competition is Roger Platts, the multi-award-winning garden designer and horticultural expert. He runs a flourishing nursery in Edenbridge, a seven-acre site which is open, along with the design office, Monday to Friday (01732 863 318, TN8 5NH).
Adjoining are his three-acre wildflower meadow and bluebell woodland. Roger’s private garden Leydens is opened to the public one weekend in August for the NGS.
9 Eden Valley walk
Inaugurated by KCC in 1991 as a 15-mile route linking the Vanguard Way where it passes to the west of Edenbridge and the Wealdway in Tonbridge, the aim of this walk was to follow the course of the River Eden as far as its confluence with the Medway, and then to continue along the Medway’s banks as far as Tonbridge Castle. Unfortunately, there were insufficient Rights of Way to make this possible, so instead existing footpaths were linked together to form a meandering but arguably more interesting route through meadows and woodlands and, at every opportunity, along the riverside too.
10 Antiques shopping
Edenbridge has long been known for its antiques shops, but best known is the Edenbridge Galleries (01732 864163, TN8 5BD), opened by antiques guru Lennox Cato in 2007 to bring together a group of British Antique Dealers’ Association dealers and provide a one-stop shop for discerning collectors. The variety on offer ranges from town and country furniture to Tunbridge Ware, clocks, works of art, glass, silver, porcelain and medieval furniture.