Spotlight on Wye
- Credit: Archant
Voted the third best place to live in the UK by The Sunday Times in 2013, Wye has it all; great facilities, an old-fashioned community feel, country pubs and rural charm – and it’s just four miles from Ashford
The history of this charming, quintessentially Kentish village can be traced right back to the Romans; by the medieval period Wye, usefully located on the River Stour, was known as an important market centre.
Although there may be no evidence left now to see, during the First World War an RAF training aerodrome was built here for bi-planes used on the Western Front.
But it’s agriculture that is really at the heart of Wye. Set among rolling, fertile fields, it has always been farming country and for many years Wye Agricultural College was one of the most important study centres for rural business, biological sciences and agriculture.
The college may have been closed down in 2009 but the community still has a very strong connection with the land. Thanks to initiatives like the Wye Community Farm and the popular Wye Farmers’ Market, the area still provides all kinds of fresh produce to local residents – all of which was grown or reared right on their doorstep. Zero food miles and sustainability are the buzzwords in this forward-thinking village where the pubs also strive to support local businesses.
Scott Richardson, who has run the King’s Head on Church Street for the last two years, says: “It’s a lovely community in Wye and when we first came here we asked the people what they wanted.
“They told us we could get everything we needed locally. Now our meat is from the farm a mile away; we use the bakery across the road; we have local jams and chutneys; we even use Kent oils for cooking and serve Kent crisps. Would you believe it, we’ve even got Kent gin in!
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“If you put back into your community, you get so much. And it’s what people want.”
Shopping and eating
Wye still boasts all the traditional shops you would hope for in a Kentish village. With its own Post Office, several pubs, restaurants and shops, it is a community with it all right on its doorstep. In Wye you can nip to Wye Bakery (TN25 5BJ) for fresh bread and pastries, buy locally made gifts and cards at Ticketyboo (TN25 5DP) and stop for a pint of real ale at The Barbers Arms micropub (TN25 5DP).
But what the area excels at is clearly fresh farm produce. Wye Community Farm is one of many local producers to sell at the fortnightly Wye Farmers’ Market (TN25 5AH), on the village green.
It’s the place to find local bread, fish, meat, cheeses and jams and runs on the first and third Saturday of every month.
Nearby Perry Court Farm, in Bilting, is a farm shop that has to be seen to be believed. It has one of the largest displays of home-grown produce in the country, as well as a butcher, a fishmonger and a café.
When it comes to pubs and restaurants, Wye has a great selection. Try the King’s Head (01233 812418, TN25 5BN) pub with guest rooms which focuses its excellent menu on local produce, the traditional New Flying Horse Inn (01233 812297, TN25 5AN) – famed for its Sunday roast – or the Tickled Trout (01233 812227, TN25 5EB) with its pretty garden running down to the banks of the River Stour.
The Wife Of Bath restaurant (01233 812232, TN25 5AF), which also offers luxurious guest accommodation, has been the pride of Wye for more than 50 years but caused concern last year when it was put up for sale. Now reopened, its tempting new menu is proving popular once again.
What do you love about Wye?
I arrived here 10 years ago, partly because I identified it as a place where people still look out for each other, and where there are still community shops. I didn’t realise that there is another layer of community in Wye which involves charities, the parish council, voluntary groups, and clubs and societies. There are more than 60 clubs and societies in this village.
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve got involved in trying to protect and enhance the community. I’m on the parish council, have been involved in the Neighbourhood Plan, am a trustee of the village’s Children’s Playing Field Charity and Village Hall charity and have also been working on the Our Place initiative - which is endeavouring to make the village an age-friendly community. Professionally, I’ve now set up a community interest company called Funder Films.
Tell us about Wye’s Forgotten Airmen
I’m behind a film made by the young people of Wye all about the forgotten airmen of the village.
Wye’s Forgotten Airmen was the pilot project for the company and you can search for it on YouTube.
I think understanding the history of a place is one key to providing people with a greater sense of belonging.
In any community people share common space, common issues and a common history. We should all be looking to celebrate and enhance the things we share in our localities for solutions.
It seems to be a very ‘green’ village?
The Agricultural College provided the community with environmentally aware staff and students. One student in particular, Richard Boden (see previous page), pioneered green initiatives in the village. The Farmers’ Market and the Community Farm are witness to his endeavours, and other green-minded people have been attracted here as a result.
Your favourite places to eat?
Wye has plenty of places to eat and drink. I enjoy going to the Kings Head, the Barbers Arms and the Tickled Trout. Occasionally I get takeaways from Joshan of Wye Indian restaurant or the Golden Wye Chinese.
And your favourite shops?
I think it’s incredibly important to foster local business in whatever form that takes. I haven’t been to an out-of-town supermarket for nearly four years and do all my shopping around Wye: at the Co-Op, at Wakelin’s butchers, at Wye Farmer’s Market and Wye bakery.
Visit www.funderfilms.com n