Fondly know as the ‘Jewel of the Weald’, Tenterden is one of Kent’s most beautiful market towns featuring the Kent & East Sussex Railway running for ten and a half miles through the Rother Valley, across the Sussex border, culminating at Bodiam with its magnificent castle.
Lining the enchanting High Street are a selection of antiques and collectables shops, various specialist stores and an excellent choice of fine old inns, cafes and Wine Kitchens many of which offer free WiFi. Follow the town’s Heritage Trail to discover beautiful old English churches and a variety of Medieval, Elizabethan, Regency Georgian and Victorian architecture.
Top attraction just a short downhill stroll from the High Street is the scenic Kent and East Sussex Railway – a journey through the Rother Levels not to be missed. A wide range of attractions, gardens and activities are within easy reach including a Rare Breeds Centre and the famous Wealden Gardens and Vineyards of Sissinghurst, Smallhythe Place, Chapel Down Winery and Biddenden Vineyards.
Prior to the great storms of the 15th century Tenterden was an important port and centre for shipbuilding and trade linked to the sea. In the 13th century the town was at the heart of the wool trade with the added advantage of being linked to the sea.
Timber-framed Medieval buildings, old churches including the beautiful 12th century St Mildred’s with its great tower overlooking the High Street, and pretty cobbled streets all survive from the period. Wood for shipbuilding came from local Wealden forests. The town takes its name from the old English ‘Tenet Waraden’ meaning clearing or den in the forest.
Kent & East Sussex Railway
One of England’s great light railways and with a particularly scenic rural route, The Kent & East Sussex Railway is an unforgettable experience. The railway runs from Tenterden Town Station with onsite museum and carriage workshop, 2 miles towards Rolverden Station with viewing gallery across the maintenance yard, then from Rolvenden the route continues on across the Rother Levels towards Wittersham Road Station which sits 3 miles from Wittersham village.
The route then pushes just across the Sussex border to Northium Station located around one mile from the village centre – this station has undergone a stunning restoration. Finally the route continues on to its end stop at Bodiam where you’ll catch views of spectacular Bodium Castle on the the approach.
Children will adore Santa Specials and Thomas the Tank Engine weekenders and dogs are welcome on the Railway. A great K&ESR Souvenir and Gift Shop also features at Tenterden Station. Themed events from 1940s Weekends to CAMRA Beer Festivals run through the year.
Tenterden is easily accessed off the A28 between Hastings and Ashford (off the M20/A20/A28). The M25 motorway is under an hour’s drive away and Eurostar rail links at Ashford International are just a 20 minute drive from Tenterden. The town is only 30 minutes from Eurotunnel at Folkestone and around a 1 hour, 15 minute drive from nearest Airport – Gatwick.
Regular bus links to Tenterden run from Ashford, Hastings, Maidstone, Rye and Tunbridge Wells. The nearest mainline railway station is Headcorn just 9 miles away which has fast rail links to and from London Charing Cross. Short stay on-street parking is available along the High Street, and there are a choice of pay and display car parks around the centre.
Where to stay
In and around this former Cinque Port sit a wonderful selection of character self-catering oast house conversions and rural cottages perfect for exploring the Sussex and Kent Weald. Discover eco-friendly and farm cottages amongst the selection in the area or opt for a stunning 17th century Grade II Listed farmhouse B&B just a short stroll from Tenterden’s leafy High Street. Luxury and award-winning B&Bs and cottages are numerous in the area and with its superb selection of inns, antique shops and light railway gem, this area of Weald is the perfect year round short break.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.