As you wander out of the edge of the sixty nine acre park and along the riverside you could be forgiven a moment of surprise as you marvel, this is a town centre. It’s early in the morning and a little mist floats above the surface of the water, a swan glides serenely by. Sunlight glints off ancient castle walls, remnants of a harsh Norman past that helped shape the future of Kents Weald.
Yes you are stood in the heart of some of the prettiest scenery in Kent and on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Weald is a beautiful area full of rolling countryside, swathes of woodland and fields of crops. Mostly gone are the hop fields and poles that once graced the landscape and provided work and drink for the local population. In their wake Oasts have become homes, barns have been converted, country houses have been sub divided and provide some of the most inspiring places to live in.
The town itself, situated on an historically important crossing over the river Medway has grown from an Iron Age pathway, seen Romans improve and use it and the Normans build a castle to protect it and show their domination. The castle, like the town with it, has gone through many changes of fortune over the centuries, ownership, enlargements and ultimately during the English Civil War its Parlimentarian owner was ordered to dismantle the defences. In 1739 its then owner began to dismantle the castle and sell off the stone. Enough remains for some buildings to be used and for events to take place in the grounds, definitely something to look out for.
Over the centuries many famous names have been connected with this town. There are strong links with novelist Jane Austen whose father was born here and celebrated cookery writer, the forerunner of Mrs Beeton, Eliza Acton lived here. Some amazing artists and sports personalities live in or near the town today enjoying the amazing community spirit that keeps this a special place to be.
Schools are always a concern for families looking to relocate. In 1559 a free Grammar School was built in this town and has become ‘one of the leading boys boarding schools in the country and highly respected internationally’. Elsewhere around the town are a great selection of schools for all ages and a college.
London is always in peoples minds and the commute is a simple one from here, it draws many new people to the town as London Bridge can be as little as thirty five minutes away by train.
In 1259 the right to hold a weekly market was Granted to the Earl of Gloucester. In more recent times the town has become home, on every second Sunday of the month, to Kent’s largest Farmers Market.
This is a town from which we find so many people are reluctant to move away. Those we meet who are newer members of the community say they are so amazed by how nice a place it is to live. To have the beauty of the surrounding countryside, excellent transport links and a surprising choice of shopping often comes as a surprise, its relaxed atmosphere a blessing. You won’t find many of the High Street chains here, there is a Waitrose, Monsoon, Starbucks etc but the thrills of the High Street are the thriving smaller boutique stores, cafes and restaurants. It is an environment where local butchers still ply their trade as does an artisan baker and a fishmonger. Take a look at the Town Team’s website, a link is supplied below, and you will find an amazing array of businesses are part of the Town’s Loyalty Shopping Card Scheme.
This is a town to have fun in, explore the walks through wondrous countryside, take a boat trip along the river, join in Dragon Boat Racing on the weekend of the Medieval Fair in September. Wander down to the Town indoor swimming pool, join the Park Run on a Saturday morning, join the canoes on the river or for the ardent walker follow the old trail to Maidstone.
Tonbridge town even has it s own ‘Happy Video’, and if you live there already then you are very lucky. If you’re looking for somewhere to move to then you’ll love it but please shhh! don’t let on how nice it is!
For more information on Tonbridge