Spotlight on Hythe
With its fabulous Festival this month and a winning combination of sea and greenery, sheltered alleys and higher levels, Hythe is picturesque, peaceful, friendly and perfectly placed
Hythe is a fascinating town of interweaving scenes and contrasts. First there’s the sea and the shingle beach, behind it swathes of parks and greenery leading to the grand wide canal and country park. The central High Street and heart of the town shelters behind the canal and its surrounding parkland, while the town centre itself masks the hills behind. Alleys from the High Street lead steeply upwards to a higher level of parallel road that’s packed with beautiful old houses and cottages.Above these cottages is the highest of the town’s three levels, where the magnificent church of St Leonard’s sits alone, commanding views across the rooftops all around. There’s a friendly, ‘olde-worlde’ atmosphere in the 1940’s-style shops, yet Hythe is close to London and near enough to France to do your shopping – plus it’s tailormade for outdoor activities, from sailing and windsurfing to swimming to golf.
Around townThere are four car parks in the main part of town, plus on-street parking in many of the roads. The High Street (main part) is relatively flat, but there are higher levels of Hythe which you might prefer to reach by car. Start at the Red Lion Square end of the High Street. The huge yellow building on your left is Malthouse Arcade. Walk up the High Street and soon you’ll see The Old Willow Restaurant, a wonderful jettied building, on the right. Don’t miss Paydens Healthcare, with the plaque above marking the birthplace of Sir Francis Pettit. Soon you come to The Swan Hotel on the left, then the Old Town Hall, a lovely yellow building with a colonnaded undercroft, which was once the old market place.St Leonard’s Church is to the left, but it’s a very steep climb, so if this is problematic ignore the following section and go by car to the upper car park. Otherwise, turn left from the High Street, taking the path that passes under the Town Hall’s upper storey. This leads to Market Hill, and to your left you’ll see The Manor House, a grand 17th-century red-brick building. Cross Bartholomew Street and take the footpath up to the church: don’t miss the attractive stone cottage on the right. Turn right as you come out to follow Oak Walk, then at its end turn left into Church Hill. At the bottom on the right corner with Bartholomew Street is historic Centuries house. Turn left and retrace your steps to the High Street. Continue on up the High Street until you come to the King’s Head on the left, cross the road and almost opposite are the Almshouses, adjoining the timber-beamed premises of Wells restaurant. Further on, turn right into Douglas Avenue, and follow this down to the end, to Prospect Road. Cross over to Waitrose, go down The Avenue, to the left of the supermarket, and follow this road to the end. Go up the steps ahead, and climb up the broad grassy bank to the raised central path. Ahead is a fantastic view of the canal below, beyond it the cricket ground and houses in the distance. Turn right and walk along this path, and you come to the black-metal Ladies’ Walk Bridge across the canal.Before you is the white War Memorial and a splendid garden. Walk over the bridge and from here you can go into the ground of Oaklands house (you can, eventually, reach the seashore by going down Ladies Walk, but this is a long way).From the canal bank, retrace your steps across the bridge, go out of the park onto Prospect Road. Cross here, and turn left to go back towards town. On your right is Aldi supermarket, go to the left along Bank Street, which leads you back to the High Street.
Festival and f�tes The Venetian F�te has been held annually on the Royal Military Canal since 1860, apart from in wartime, and is now held biannually, in ‘odd’ years. It is a tableau of decorated floats in various themes, two processions of up to 40 floats, first in daylight, then after dark. Between the two parades, at dusk, there’s a grand fireworks display and entertainments. The Hythe Festival is also held biannually, on ‘even’ years.
Considering a move?Expect to pay �121,000 for a one-bed flat, �211,500 for a two-bed flat, slightly less for a two-bed house, and around �261,000 for a three-bed semi. A four-bed house is likely to be approximately �378,000 or higher.
My TownJane Twist, committee member, Hythe Civic Society
Tell us about Hythe Civic Society The Hotel Imperial has planning permission for housing on its land. We worry that Twiss Road will become a corridor of housing. Then there’s the Sainsbury’s development on Military Road, when we have plenty of supermarkets already. We’re frustrated that this is a small town and it’s growing rapidly, without the infrastructure to support the extra population.
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What do you like about Hythe? It’s so convenient: we’ve just come back from London, and we often pop over to northern France for the day. The sea’s down the road, and there’s all this wonderful greenery. What I like is that it’s such a friendly town, you can walk down the High Street and keep meeting people and stopping to chat.
Your favourite place in Hythe? I love the churchyard, and Eton Lands is beautiful: it’s a park and an area where lots of trees have been planted; my husband Jim and I have got involved in tree planting there.
How would you improve Hythe? The swimming pool needs replacing and we need a community centre. There are marvellous independent shops in the High Street and we want to keep it that way.
What do you think of the Festival? We’re very keen on it, in fact Jim and I are manning and organising the festival ‘shop.’ The good thing is, most of the events are free, so plenty of people can be involved.