PUBLISHED: 16:44 24 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 20 February 2013
Known as the Jewel of the Weald, Tenterden boasts a vast High Street, beautiful architecture and a thriving music scene
What's in a name?
Known variously as Tenet-ware-den, Tentevardene, Tentwardenn or Tentyrdon, translating to 'den, or pig-pasture of the men of Thanet'.
What's it got going for it?
Known as the Jewel of the Weald, Tenterden has a broad High Street, with restaurants, shops and historic houses separated from the road by wide tree-lined grass verges. The beautiful Elizabethan-to-Regency architecture features brick, mathematical tiles, stucco and white weatherboarding. Set in scenic countryside, Rye is only 14 miles away. Relatively stable house prices fell only 17 per cent from their peak.
The case against
Tenterden is 13 miles away from main motorway links and has no station, the nearest being Headcorn (nine miles) or Ashford
(13 miles). More off-street parking is urgently needed and there's deep local frustration about the Sunday charges.
Highs and lows
The town used to be a wool-exporting seaport until weaving became a Tenterden skill, inspiring the town's broadcloth industry. Shipbuilding also prospered, earning Tenterden the status of a Cinque Port in 1449. This allowed the town virtual self government, it could appoint its own mayor and was exempt from national taxes. Hopeful local taxpayers have suggested to Mr Darling that he should reactivate this last decree, but they're still waiting. During the 1500s, the River Rother silted up, ending Tenterden's seaport and shipbuilding years.
What to see and do
St Mildred's church has a pinnacled 100ft tower, from where you can see as far as the channel coast, and the Tenterden and District museum (01580 764310) has fascinating displays. Don't miss a ride on the heritage steam railway, the Kent and East Sussex Railway (01580 765155), or a visit to Col Stephens Railway museum (01580 765155).
Smallhythe Place (015809 762334) houses The Ellen Terry Museum, named after its former owner, and has a working theatre and cottage garden, while Tenterden's Sinden Theatre stages regular productions. Nearby attractions include Sissinghurst
Castle Gardens (01580 710700), Woodchurch Village Life museum (01233 861493) and Biddenden Vineyard and cider works (01233 291726). There's an annual Tenterden Folk Festival in October (see column).
Where to eat and drink
The Black Lion (01233 758206), in nearby Appledore, offers an extensive menu with locally reared lamb and freshly caught fish a specialty, while Tenterden's White Lion Hotel (01580 765077) combines olde worlde charm with a fantastic menu. Richard Phillips at Chapel House (01580 761616) offers fine wine plus modern and traditional English cuisine in a wonderful scenic location. Two great pubs are The Woolpack (01580 764282) and The Vine Inn (01580 762718). For morning coffee, try the quaint 16th-century Peggoty's Tea Shoppe (01580 764393).
Two independent preparatory schools, both mixed, for ages three to 13 are: Marlborough House School (01580 753555) and Dulwich Preparatory School (01580 712179). Post 11-year-olds schools are co-educational Bethany School (01580 211273) and Bedgebury International School (01580 879100).
A one-bedroomed flat is priced at around £105,000, while a two-bedroomed apartment guide price is £145,000. For a small terraced two-up, two-down house, expect to pay £130 to 150,000, and for a three-bedroomed semi-detached home the price would be around £195,000.
A four-bedroomed detached house on a modern estate will be upwards of £275,000, and a similar size property with land would start at £500,000 but could cost considerably more.
Bargain of the month
Charming two-bedroomed period cottage with original features plus landscaped garden and off-street parking for just £149,950.
Ward & Partners, 01580 766002.
Tenterden is on the A28 between Ashford and Hastings, nearest mainline railway station Headcorn or Ashford International, reached by frequent buses. Rail enquiries 08457 48 49 50, bus enquiries, Traveline 0871 200 2233. The satnav postcode for the town centre is TN30 6AU
Alan Castle, accountant and director of Tenterden Folk Festival
What do you like most about Tenterden?
It's a picturesque, historic town that still retains a friendly community spirit, plus there's a wide choice of pubs and restaurants.
What's Tenterden famous for?
Probably its astonishingly wide High Street (I think it's the widest in the country), and St Mildred's church's amazingly tall tower.
Tell us about the Tenterden Folk Festival
On 2 to 4 October there will be more than 300 Morris dancers, Hooden horses, street entertainers, and dancing in the streets, starting with a barn dance on the Friday evening. The pubs will be full of folk singers and musicians and there will be stalls on the greens, barn dances and concerts at different venues around town, pub singarounds, mummers, clog dancers, craft fairs and displays.
Your favourite places?
The Woolpack hotel, a traditional pub with good real ales, and I also love Webbs ironmongery, which stocks so many useful, hard-to-find items. I'm very fond of the war memorial and recreation ground.
Do you have a favourite shop?
Chapel House Winery (01580 766111) is a great place, not only for the excellent English wines, but for local cheeses, pickles and jams.
What would you tell visitors?
There's lots to see, wonderful shops, quaint alleys and beautiful old buildings. The smaller, privately owned shops make the town what it is.