10 good reasons to visit Paddock Wood
Paddock Wood can trace its settlement history back to Saxon times and the area's hop farms once attracted thousand of families, who would spend their summer holidays hop picking. Now there are plenty of other reasons for people to visit.
Top of the hops
Paddock Wood’s historic association with hop picking can be seen on display in The Hop Story Museum at The Hop Farm, formerly one of the busiest and lively farms in the area. It is now offers ‘A World of Activities’ for a family day out, including rides and fun zones for the children. The farm also hosts shows, concerts, shows and special events throughout the year. The next big event is the Kent County Fair, being held from 1-3 May.
Back to nature
With spring in the air, a visit to Foal Hurst Wood is a must for visitors to Paddock Wood. The 29 acres of ancient woodland and 11 acres of meadowland had fallen into neglect before the Town Council took the area over in 1997 and, with the help of volunteers, turned it into a nature reserve for all to enjoy. There is a network of rides and footpaths and at this time of year you’ll find primroses, orchids and bluebells. Plus it is home to a variety of wildlife. No dogs.
A walk in the country
There are many public footpaths through the area’s beautiful Kentish countryside and to make the most of them, the Town Council has produced the informative booklet Seven Walks Around Paddock Wood. It contains a brief history of the town, plus maps and directions of all the walks, which vary in length from 2.5 miles to more than five miles. The free booklets are available from the Town Council and other outlets in the town.
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A window into the past
The Church of St Andrew’s in Maidstone Road is fairly modern compared with the historic churches found in nearby villages, but there is a reason for this. On 4 November 1940, the original church, which had stood since 1860, was destroyed by a stray bomb. Ragstone from this church was used in the foundations for the new church, where one of the noteworthy features is a rose window. The glass was designed by Joan Howson in memory of John Brunt VC MC (see opposite). Only the graveyard remains at the site close to the town centre and the headstones act as a social history to all the families who settled in the area during the development of the town. One of these headstones belongs to Dorothy Dickens, daughter of the famous author Charles Dickens.
Best kept secret
One of the longstanding features of Paddock Wood is the name of C.W. Barsley. The department store at 16-22 Commercial Road started life more than 100 years ago as a family tailors and has over time developed into what is locally claimed to be West Kent’s ‘best kept shopping secret’.
There are several places to eat and drink in the town, including the John Brunt VC pub. Originally The Kent Arms, it changed its name in honour of its local hero John Brunt, decorated twice for bravery during the Second World War. Brunt was awarded the Victoria Cross after helping repel a German attack in Italy, despite being wounded. In a sad twist of fate, the day after surviving the battle, the 22-year-old was killed by mortar fire. In 1997, the pub changed its name to the The Hopping Hooden Horse, but after local pressure, the John Brunt name was restored in 2001.
A parade of floats is just one of the many attractions at the town’s annual Carnival and Fete which has been organised by the Paddock Wood & District Lions Club since 1983.
The parade makes its way through the streets to St Andrew’s Playing Field where there are fairground rides and entertainment plus f�te stalls run by local clubs and societies. Money raised from the event is used for local charity and welfare projects. This year’s carnival takes place on 10 July.
A run in the country
The annual Paddock Wood half marathon now attracts around 1,000 runners, many of whom use the event as a warm up to the London marathon. The route starts in the town, where spectators line the streets to cheer the competitors on before they head out into the surrounding countryside. The event is organised by the Paddock Wood Athletics Club and this year’s 21st Paddock Wood Half Marathon & Joe Cartwright Fun Run takes place on 11 April.
Fitness fanatics can put themselves through their paces at the Putlands Sports and Leisure Centre, which has facilities for a range of activities including five-a-side football, badminton, basketball, netball and short mat bowls, a gym and group exercise studio. Elsewhere in the town there are recreation grounds for football, cricket, and tennis club, plus an all-weather bowls facility.
The Paddock Wood Magpies Drama Group will be staging a good old-fashioned ‘whodunit’ as its spring production. Curtain up on Murder is being performed at Matfield Village Hall on 11 and 12 June. Tickets on sale mid-May, tel: 01892 834365.
Paddock Wood can be found roughly half way between Tonbridge and Maidstone on the B2160, just off the main A228. Bus services to and from the town are operated by Arriva and the train station has rail links with London, Ashford, Folkestone and Dover. Sat nav: TN12 6EN