The pretty medieval town of Cranbrook lies on the edge of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with many buildings dating from the 15th to 19th century.

Back in the day it was at the centre of the region’s cloth industry and many landmarks make Cranbrook picturesque. St Dunstan’s church, which is often referred to as the Cathedral of the Weald, dates back more than 500 years and of course, there’s also the iconic symbol of Cranbrook …the Union Mill.

Just two miles north-east of Cranbrook is one of the world's most famous and influential gardens, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, created by poet and writer Vita Sackville-West, and her author and diplomat husband, Harold Nicolson.

In 1962, the estate was donated to the National Trust ( and has since become a pilgrimage destination for garden lovers as well as hugely popular beauty spot frequented by locals. The gardens contain an internationally respected plant collection, particularly the assemblage of old garden roses, and is designed on axial walks that open onto enclosed gardens, termed "garden rooms", one of the earliest examples of this gardening style. Cranbrook is a vibrant community and has something for every age, resident and visitor.

Great British Life: The Cloudberry restaurant The Cloudberry restaurant


Offering a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, The Cloudberry Restaurant, ( is not just a popular place to eat, but also home for Toby and Beverley who run the popular restaurant. With only 20 covers, locals and visitors from around the country and beyond head to the Georgian building which offers a short, focussed set menu but which has been described as sophisticated and hearty. Flavour, a relaxed presentation as well as reasonably priced wine menu make The Cloudberry a must visit.

Offering bespoke cakes, breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas, The Wendy House ( has some simply spectacular sweet treats available and flavours change daily at this independent café on Stone Street.

And, for fans of local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, Larkins’ Alehouse ( then this independent micropub won’t disappoint. Add in those must pub snacks and it’s easy to see why it was a finalist in CAMRA’s Pub of Year 2022.

Work, eat and play at The Hive ( where everyone can make the most of the social space on offer. From casual lunches to social events and parties, The Hive is a perfect hang out.

Great British Life: View of Cranbrook shops in the snow View of Cranbrook shops in the snow (Image: Adams Group)


Cranbrook is a quaint town to explore with its eclectic mix of independent shops, and nestled in Cranbrook for nearly 50 years, Bell House Fabrics and Interiors ( is a family-run business offering a unique range of products and services. A bespoke interior design service, paint studio (including on-site mixing), designer fabrics and specialist wallpapers as well as upholstered furniture in a choice of many stunning fabrics are all on offer at the high street showroom. Also on the high street is Odyl ( owned by Gemma Holmes. Having dressed many famous faces, Odyl has everything from casuals to occasion wear and also offers personal styling appointments. The Glasshouse ( is a special place packed full of oxygen and a beautiful variety of plants grown and nurtured in disused prison glasshouses. Carefully curated containers, pots and accessories are available as well as advice from this not-for-profit social enterprise which brings the powerful benefits of nature to the community and provides second chances for women serving sentences in prison or those recently released. And finally, there’s Hartley Farm Shop which has everything from a bakery to delicious meats and cheeses and the coffee shop has more tempting treats to enjoy! (I: @hartleyfarmkent)

Great British Life: Union Mill Cranbrook has been restored to its full working orderUnion Mill Cranbrook has been restored to its full working order (Image: Cranbrook Windmill Association)


It graces the landscape and symbolises the crucial role of agriculture in the region… Cranbrook Union Mill is a sight to behold especially when the sails are turning.

As the tallest smock windmill in England, at 72ft high, with panoramic views of Cranbrook, Mary Dobell had the windmill built in 1814 by James Humphrey, a local millwright, for her son Henry.

The 200-year-old Grade 1 Listed Union Mill is now gracing the skyline after three years in the doldrums during a major refurbishment.

Gazing down on the town from the top of the hill work was commissioned and paid for by Kent Council who have owned the windmill since 1958. They paid one shilling (5p) for it then and made a promise to look after it.

The mill is managed by Cranbrook Windmill Association, a group of volunteers formed in 1982 and who never thought the mill would be restored to its full working order. But now, these volunteers are helping to showcase this beautiful windmill which they describe as “probably the finest in the country.”

Entrance is free but donations are welcome, the mill will reopen at Easter (

Great British Life: Three Chimneys Farm is an idyllic place to stay Three Chimneys Farm is an idyllic place to stay (Image: Marion Fuller)


A visit to Cranbrook is a must but a stay is just as special. Located at the end of a farm track, in the heart of glorious countryside, Three Chimneys Farm ( is a perfect hideaway but also an ideal base for exploring the area. The farm offers beautiful views, woodland walks and mountain bike tracks are located at nearby Bedgebury Forest. Both self-catering and bed and breakfast accommodation is available.

The George Hotel is one of Cranbrook’s most historic buildings and offers 12 rooms which combine period features coupled with modern décor while the Star and Eagle offers ten bedrooms behind the attractive timbered 14th century gables but with the comfort and facilities of the modern day.


Post office: Cranbrook Post Office is located at 54 High Street. Open Mondays and Tuesdays from 9am to 7.30pm, and Wednesdays to Saturdays 9am to 12.30pm (closed Sundays).

Healthcare: GP surgeries in the area include Orchard End Surgery in Dorothy Avenue as well as The Crane and Old School Surgeries which in April are set to merge. The nearest hospital is in Maidstone, managed by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. And private hospital, Benenden Hospital is rated outstanding by the CQC.

Schools: The area’s schools include Cranbrook School, one of only a small number of state boarding schools in the UK and which was given royal charter by Elizabeth 1 in 1574. Saint Ronan’s School also has a distinguished history and excellent academic record while Benenden School is regarded as one of the leading boarding schools for girls in Britain. Dulwich Prep and Marlborough House were also shortlisted in the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2022.

Transport: The closest railway station is Staplehurst (about five miles from Cranbrook) which is managed by Southeastern, while Arriva Kent and Surrey operates the area’s buses.