Villages in Kent: 10 of the prettiest places to go

PUBLISHED: 09:31 18 June 2019

Aylesford and the River Medway (photo: asmithers, Getty Images)

Aylesford and the River Medway (photo: asmithers, Getty Images)

Alan Smithers

Kent has many villages that exude historical charm and a traditional village atmosphere beloved by locals and visitors. Here we pick 10 of the prettiest to explore

- Aylesford

Nestled on the scenic banks of the River Medway and accessible by a medieval stone bridge is the picturesque village of Aylesford. Take a ramble amongst the characterful almshouses and historic buildings as you soak up the traditional village atmosphere.

Visit: Kit's Coty House, a Neolithic monument of significant historical interest. The monument, made of large stones called "megaliths", leads to a tomb that could date back as far as 4000 BCE.

Eat and drink: Head to vintage style tearoom the Village Pantry on Forstal Road for afternoon tea. Or, if you fancy a pint and some home-cooked food, duck into the Hengist, a 16th century pub and restaurant.

Aylesford Bridge

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- Biddenden

Explore the higgledy-piggledy cottages in this fairytale village surrounded by greenery and Kentish countryside. Deep in history, Biddenden was once home to conjoined twin sisters born in the 12th century, Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst. They are depicted in the town sign found on the village green.

Visit: Biddenden Vineyards is open to visitors and has regular wine tasting sessions. Afterwards you can take a stroll around the fields of grapes.

Eat and drink: The West House is a Michelin-starred restaurant serving seasonal cuisine but if it's a pint of real ale you're after, The Three Chimneys is one of our favourite historical pubs in Kent.

Biddenden_009

- Chiddingstone

The village of Chiddingstone is a National Trust site that's been hailed as "one of the most beautiful and oldest villages in Kent". Think timber-framed houses, countryside views and a traditional village community.

Visit: Chiddingstone Castle is open for its spring/summer season. Each year, swathes of guests pay a visit to the castle, eager to absorb some history. Tickets are £9.50 for adults, £4.50 for ages five to 13 and free for under fives.

Eat and drink: Chiddingstone Castle has a delightful tearoom and the village's own Tulip Tree tearoom is equally as good. Expect plenty of tempting homemade cakes, shabby chic interiors and friendly staff.

Chiddingstone Village & Church

- Chilham

Located in the Kent Downs, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Chilham has flower-adorned Tudor houses with red slate roofs; historical pubs with sun-trap beer gardens and charming original features. It's a delight waiting to be discovered.

Visit: Explore the North Downs Way on foot for breathtaking scenery or head to Kings Wood for a forest walk.

Eat and drink: The White Horse is a 14th century tavern with a welcoming community spirit. Open-mic nights, jazz evenings and local musicians keep the atmosphere lively while patrons enjoy hearty food and a pint or two of their favourite tipple.

Clements' Cottage, Chilham, Kent

- Fordwich

With a population of 381 in the 2011 census, it's tempting to call Fordwich a village, but it's the "smallest community by population in Britain with a town council," making it a town. Semantics aside, the Great Stour River runs through the settlement with stone bridges straddling, making for interesting walks for the family.

Visit: Canterbury residents are just a few miles away from Fordwich. Escape the city and head to tranquillity.

Eat and drink: The Fordwich Arms is a quintessential tavern that serves tasty pub classics and, of course, plenty of drinks. Join the Arms for a Sunday roast after a morning wander around the tiny town.

- Godmersham

The little village of Godmersham is a great place for keen ramblers to explore as it's tucked away between the North Downs Way and the historical Pilgrims' Way walking routes. Expect winding country roads, period properties and panoramic views of the Kentish countryside.

Visit: Godmersham Park is a grand estate that was once home to Jane Austen's brother Edward Knight. Although a private house, the gardens will be opened under the National Garden Scheme and by appointment on certain days. Check the NGS website for details. Jane Austen and Godmersham Park also feature on Britain's £10 note.

Eat and drink: Pack a picnic and enjoy the great outdoors.

Godmersham House, Kent

- Ightham

Half-timbered houses with charmingly wonky brickwork create the precedent for the attractive village of Ightham. Steeped in history, Ightham has its fair share of stories to tell. There's a farm shop, three great pubs, and the Oldbury Woods, perfect for tranquil walks and listening to the sounds of birdsong.

Visit: National Trust-run Ightham Mote - so named for its iconic moat - is a commanding 14th century manor house with gardens and estate land to explore. Step back in time as you venture into the house or stroll through the manicured gardens.

Eat and drink: The George & Dragon is a pub housed in a traditional Tudor building with dark wood beams and cosy interiors - a lovely place to put your feet up after a tour of the village.

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- Newenden

Reportedly the smallest village in Kent, Newenden is nevertheless a worthy addition to the list. It is, after all, located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Saint Peter's Church, built in the early 14th century is a peaceful place to reflect for a while before wandering to the River Rother for a spot of fishing or watching the cricket in the warmer months at Newenden Cricket Club.

Visit: Take the Bodiam Ferry to Bodiam Castle in Robertsbridge, East Sussex. Built in the 1300s, this castle makes for a grand day out for history lovers.

Eat and drink: The local watering hole is the White Hart, renowned for serving good food and real ale on tap. It's one of our favourite real ale pubs in Kent.

Newenden

- Penshurst

Also nestled in the Weald of Kent is Penshurst, perhaps most famous for its stately house Penshurst Place, once home to King Henry VIII. Penshurst has many quintessentially Kentish gardens such as Yew Tree Cottage, a peaceful spot located on a hill and the gardens at Penshurst Place with 11 acres of beautifully kept shrubbery and an arboretum. Historical buildings and pretty cottages with half timbered facades and topped with red roofs are manifold in this village.

Visit: Pay a visit to Penshurst Place not just for its beautiful garden, but the royal house too which is open until 27th October. Finish off your visit in the Garden Restaurant for a coffee and cake.

Eat and drink: Once you've had your fill of Penshurst, recharge in The Bottlehouse Inn, an archetypal village pub with a varied and seasonally changing food menu and plenty of well-kept real ales and wine behind the bar. Make sure to bagsy a sunny spot outside in the summer or huddle in the sympathetically restored restaurant or bar in the winter months.

Rural Kent - Penshurst

- Wye

Surrounded by hilly countryside, Wye makes for interesting walks that feature breathtaking views and the buildings in the village itself are steeped in history and intrigue. Explore the homely cottages and historic places including Wye College and the parish church.

Visit: The River Stour can be seen from the bridge and offers opportunities to spot some wildlife. Also, don't miss the huge crown carved into the chalk on the nearby hillside.

Eat and drink: Stop at The Kings Head on Church Street on a Sunday for a roast. There's a choice of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or roast vegetable and lentil wellington, all served with roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, buttered seasonal greens, honey roast root vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and local ale gravy.

Wye Court | Wye to Crundale and around | Kent Weald-10

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