Spotlight on: Edenbridge


Edenbridge - Credit: Archant

Famous for its Guy Fawkes nights when, in past years, they’ve ‘burnt’ Wayne Rooney, Katie Price and Jonathan Ross, who will sit atop the kindling in Edenbridge this year?

1 Flaming celebrities

The 2013 Edenbridge bonfire festivities kick off at 6.30pm on 2 November, when the streets are closed and a 2,000-strong torch-lit procession takes over the town. There are floats, tableaux and marching bands, with huge effigies of Guy Fawkes accompanied by Ann Boleyn (with her head under her arm). The grand finale is a firework display when the effigy of Guy Fawkes dramatically self destructs, as does the ‘Celebrity Guy,’ whose identity is kept secret until the last few hours. Who will get to sit atop the kindling this year?

2 Beautiful buildings Ye Old Crown Inn and the White Horse Inn are noted historic buildings, and in an attractive area called The Square you’ll find a 1400s Wealden Hall House, divided into shop premises. Numbers 94 and 96 High Street are both 1400s houses, one of them a Wealden Hall House, and these were joined together to form one large dwelling in 1550. Look out for Antiques Roadshow expert Lennox Cato’s eponymous antiques gallery (01732 865988), also on The Square. The grand Ebenezer Chapel (1808) is now rechristened the Bridges Centre and offers refreshments and hosts varied workshops and exhibitions.

3 Ann Boleyn’s home Magnificent Hever Castle (01732 865224, TN8 7NG), a Tudor manor built within a much older gatehouse and walled bailey, is most famous as the seat of the Boleyns. The house has 16th-century portraits, paintings, furniture and tapestries, and outside there are Rose, Tudor and Italian gardens, the latter featuring Italian stone sculptures. In addition there’s a lake, new Japanese Tea House folly, a ‘Tudor village’, water maze, playground and the Moat Restaurant.

4 Just a minute The parish church of St Peter and St Paul dates from Norman times and its fine features include a clock with no minute hand, a late Norman font and a window in the East Wall by Sir Edward Burne-Jones; the stained glass in the large West Window was installed in 2001 to commemorate the millennium. The Arts and Crafts architect, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, is buried in the cemetery.

5 Keeping active Edenbridge Leisure Centre (01732 865665, TN8 5LU) has an exercise studio, swimming pool, teaching/toddler pool, multi-purpose sports hall, Wellness Gym, an all-weather pitch, squash courts, cafe and crèche. There are facilities for badminton, table tennis, short-mat bowls, swimming classes catering for people of all ages, aqua-fit classes, an exercise dance studio, IT suite, play facilities, lifeguard course and group fitness cardio workouts.

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6 Punishing stone Nearby Chiddingstone village (TN8 7AH) is owned by the National Trust, who describe it as “one of the most beautiful and oldest in Kent.” It is named after the ‘Chiding Stone,’ a large sandstone outcrop which may have been used for public chastisements, and is a perfect example of a Tudor one-street village. The houses are half timbered, there’s a fine church, the highly recommended Castle Inn (01892 870247) and beautiful Chiddingstone Castle (closed in winter).

7 Wine and dine

Excellent restaurants include: The Haxted Mill Riverside Brasserie and Bar (01732 862914, TN8 6PU) (French), La Botte (01732 863873, TN8 5AB) (Italian), Castle Inn (01892 870247, TN8 7AH), The White Horse Inn (01342 850640, TN8 7ED), Tom Bells fish and ships (01732 867878, TN8 5AR), The Royal Oak (01732 866335, TN8 6RD), and for splendid beer try: The King Henry V111 (01732 862457, TN8 7NH), Queen’s Arms (01732 862862, TN8 5NP), The Wheatsheaf (01732 864091, TN8 5QL), The Old Eden (01732 862398, TN8 5AX), and the Star Inn (01732 864766, TN8 5AY).

8 View from the bridge

The Great Stone Bridge gave the town its name, because a Saxon abbot called Eadhelm built the first wooden bridge over the river; the river later took the name ‘Eden.’ The current bridge was built in 1834 and and a stone plaque commemorates two early bridge wardens. Beside the bridge is a paved seating area, and from here you can take a short riverside walk.

9 Ancient relics

The Eden Valley Museum (01732 868102, TN8 5AR) is housed in Church House, originally Doggetts Farmhouse, one of the oldest buildings in the town.Built around 1380; it is timber framed, but had a brick frontage added in the 18th century. There are archives with huge photo collections, a shop with guidebooks and items of local interest, plusdisplays of various artefacts, some interactive.

10 Twitchers’ paradise

Bough Beech Reservoir (01622 662012, ME19 5EG) (only open on Sundays in November) is next to a nature reserve, and well known for its bird-watching facilities, migrating ospreys in particular. You can see nesting coots, summer swallows, ducks, great crested newts, glow worms, bats, nightingales and more. There are ancient trees, butterflies and wild flowers, a circular nature trail walk. There’s also a 19th-century oast house that hosts a Visitors’ Centre and shop. n

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