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Let’s All Live Here!

Thinking about upping sticks? In our regular report, we snoop around one of the hidden secret property hotspots in the Muddy 'hood to get the local lowdown. Next up: Horsmonden!

Love to daydream about moving house? So do we! That’s why we created this regular column, in which we take our ogling addiction to the next level.

Outside the tempting towns, our county is bursting with rural or suburban sweet spots – often with exceptional shops, restaurants, schools, transport links and community spirit.

So we asked our expert Fiona Penny – who founded Fiona Penny Bespoke Home Finders 12 years ago and knows both the property industry and this area of the country inside out – to lift the curtain on these Kent destinations.

Where to this week…? Horsmonden, that’s where!

THE LOWDOWN

The small and pretty agricultural village of Horsmonden (did you know it means ‘horsemen’s woodland pasture? Nope? We didn’t either) sits pretty in the Weald of Kent, surrounded by hop gardens, orchards, farmland, ponds and woodlands. It’s just 3 miles (7 minutes, to be precise) from Goudhurst (short-listed in Muddy’s Best Places to Live 2020 series) and 8 miles east of Royal Tunbridge Wells and 8 miles west of Cranbrook.

Horsmonden was the most important gun founding centre in Britain in the mid-1500s (for the fact fans). A mass artillery industry and furnace was central to the village, hence the names of Furnace Lane and Furnace Pond, and the name of the old village pub The Gun & Spitroast.

The large village green, known as the ‘Heath’, is over-looked by the village shop, Heath Stores, the pub and a pharmacy (convenient).

There’s a really strong community feel to this village – and it boasts a thriving social scene. We don’t mean nightclubs, theatres and bars – we’re talking rural social scene – Summer Festival, Bonfire Night, that kind of thing.

There’s Horsmonden Cricket Club, Hormsonden Lawn Tennis Club, Horsmonden Golf Society, a Netball Club and Football team (founded in 1899) and there’s even a Table Tennis Club. Or for something a bit different there’s Horsmonden Ukelele Big Band. Not forgetting Beavers, Cubs, Brownies, Guides, Scouts and Explorers clubs in the village for the little ones.

TRANSPORT

Paddock Wood train station is a 10 mins drive, then a speedy 40 mins commute into London Bridge. Equally, both Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells mainline stations are 20-25 mins drive away.

Here, you are a 10 mins drive from the A21, with easy links then to the M25 and the motorway network. Or drive south 45 mins and find yourself at the East Sussex coast – day trip to Rye, anyone?

IN LOVE WITH LOCAL

The award-winning village store, Heath Stores (pictured below), deserves a special extra mention as it’s a wonderful local asset – with a deli and bakery counter, lots of local produce and plastic-free goods section.

This store really is at the heart of the community and big on supporting local – throughout the Covid-19 crisis, for example, the team have been out daily doing local deliveries to those that need it.

Local foodies, and families, tend to drive to The Goudhurst Inn (Goudhurst), The Vineyard (Lamberhurst) or The Small Holding (Kilndown) which have great menus and decent beer gardens too.

The Small Holding (top left) The Goudhurst Inn (top right and bottom left) and The Vineyard (bottom right)

There’s also Pizza Cucina, the wood-fired pizza-specialists-on-wheels; a food truck that sits opposite Heath Stores once a week, offering fantastic, healthy, tasty pizzas, freshly made to order and cooked in a traditional wood fired oven in minutes. 

OUT AND ABOUT

Just five minutes away, near Goudhurst, you’ll find Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest a brilliant outdoor woodland area perfect for family walks, cycle rides, running and even Go Ape (pictured above). Recently listed as of one of the UK’s most beautiful sites, Bedgebury Forest has a whole host of health, fitness and wellbeing opportunities.

There are also big annual events that take place, like outdoor music concerts in the summer and festive light trails in the winter.

Nearby too, there’s brilliant Bewl Water (pictured above), a big, beautiful reservoir offering a fantastic range of outdoor activities – from cycling to water sports, open air cinema, children’s parties and in the summer, the Aqua Park. Oh and a decent restaurant too! 

There’s also a few National Trust goodies in the area, like Scotney Castle (pictured below) with it’s pretty castle ruins or Sissinghurst Castle, with its famous gardens – both less than 15 mins drive away.

Scotney Castle

Not too far away is Hush Heath Vineyard (pictured below) a family-run local vineyard that has produced award-winning wines. See for yourself with an expert-led tour through their beautiful vineyards, apple orchards and ancient oak woodlands.

Or book a table, pop to their 400 acre estate and experience their new Winery and Tasting Room ‘The View’, definitely a date you won’t forget (unless you drink waaaaay too much of the wine obvs).

EDUCATING MUDDY

Horsmonden primary school is a lovely village community school, with 200 pupils and with a Good Ofsted report or nearby Goudhurst Primary School that has been rated Outstanding.

Or for independent options there’s Dulwich Prep in Cranbrook. Also a good location for excellent private Secondary Schools such as Tonbridge School for boys and Kent College for girls.  And a wide range of excellent prep schools in the surrounding area, Kent College Junior School (now taking boys and girls) or Rose Hill in Tunbridge Wells or The Schools at Somerhill in Tonbridge.

Horsmonden is right on the periphery of the Cranbrook Grammar School catchment (one of the few co-educational grammars and very popular). And if you buy in just the right road, you can just make the catchment cut off.

Otherwise there’s excellent boys and girl’s grammar schools which can be reached by bus or train connections such as TOGGS, TWIGGS, The Judd School, Skinners Boys School, Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar. (Paddock Wood train station would be the nearest).

HOT PROPERTY

You’ll pay more of a premium on houses within walking distance of the much sought-after centre of Horsmonden, (particularly if they are over-looking the green). Otherwise, the average 4 bed detached properties currently sell for between £500 – £600k.

WHY WE LOVE IT

A countryside idyll with a calendar full of village events and get togethers to go with the great community vibe.

Sitting exactly between Tunbridge Wells and Cranbrook you can access each town without too much of a journey (but remember you’re rural here, so everything is a bit of a drive!)

The country-side location means you get more house and garden (and often privacy) for your money here.

Good location for schools and, best of all for families, there’s so much great outdoor fun to be had here with Bedgebury and Bewl both on your doorstep.

Fiona Penny Bespoke Home Finders is a property finding service that can help you find your dream property in Kent and East SussexRead more here.

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