Water Lane, Hawkhurst
Discovered Water Lane in Hawkhurst? This secret garden is an idyllic rural gem - consisting of walled garden, vinery, Victorian glasshouses and restaurant. They offer brilliant floral workshops too...
Down a pretty, hedgerow-lined lane full of cow parsley, ox-eye daisies and buttercups and with long vistas across the High Weald of Kent, is Water Lane.
This idyllic walled garden – with a Vinery and Victorian glasshouses – has a magical, slightly tumble-down charm and has been taken on as a long-term project while the site is being sympathetically transformed into a working kitchen garden with vegetable beds, cut flowers, restored vinery, outside spaces and a pavilion for dining and events. It’s very much a ‘Watch This Space’ kinda place.
The restaurant at Water Lane opened on July 2021, alongside select garden plants for sale and a small shop. Step through the large wooden gates to the hidden walled garden, an historical horticultural masterpiece with Grade II Victorian glasshouses dating back to the 1800s, including a Melon House, Cucumber House, Pelargonium House and Peach Case and a Vinery, on what was once the Tongswood Estate.
Water Lane is an ongoing restoration project in the hands of new owners, Nick Selby and Ian James, who bring with them a wealth of food and horticultural passion from their previous business, Melrose and Morgan, a grocery store and kitchen with shops in London’s Primrose Hill and Hampstead.
In collaboration with many partners, notably East Sussex based architectural company, RX Architects, the project has a ten-year timeline to restore the site to its full capacity as a productive walled garden with 13 Victorian glasshouses and 72 no-dig beds, measuring over 650 metres, growing vegetables, fruit, herbs to provide for the garden restaurant and cut flowers for sale, including Larkspur, Dahlias, Sweet Peas, Nigella, Honesty, Cosmos, Zinnia and Cerinthe.
The site of the old polytunnel in the garden has been transformed into a beautiful terrace with tented stretch awning, open kitchen, wood-fired oven and tables and chairs from British company Very Good & Proper’s new outdoor sustainable furniture range. Every table has open views out on to the glasshouses, long flower borders and vegetable and cut flower beds. When we said rustic charm, we meant it.
The menu at Water Lane reflects its sense of place in the English countryside. The short and ever-changing menu by head chef, Jed Wrobel, is guided by the seasons with British produce-led cooking that is simple and elegant but prepared with imagination and care.
The menu focuses primarily on vegetables either grown in The Walled Garden’s own no-dig beds or from nearby organic and biodynamic farms. The menu will also include small amounts of grass-fed meat and day boat fish from nearby Hastings and Rye.
Sample menu highlights include overnight oats, apricots, cherry compote; kedgeree; melon, plum, cherry and mint on the breakfast menu and for lunch, flat bread with potato, cherry and Winnie’s Wheel; pearl barley stuffed peppers and green sauce; wood-fire baked plaice with fennel and olives; lamb and feta meatballs with milk and chard and for pudding, cherry and almond tart or poached peach with bay custard and crumbs.
The wine list is supplied by Keeling Andrew and Co, the merchant arm of Noble Rot, and includes wines from nearby Kent and East Sussex vineyards Tillingham and Westwell, amongst a list of classic options and more interesting and unusual wines. The aperitif menu will change with the seasons and will include the Water Lane Bicyclette, Elderflower Sour, local gin-based cocktails and Vermouths.
WORKSHOPS AND COURSES
There’s a regularly updated programme of courses and events at Water Lane – click here for further details.
Photography by Maria Bell
Wednesday: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Thursday: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Friday: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm
follow Water Lane, Hawkhurst on