From its battles and revolts to witches, mad priests and dinosaurs, Maidstone has quite a past. The county town was a main route for pilgrimages because of its location between Dover and London and a bustling centre for both local and national trade which ran along the River Medway. When the remains of a species of Iguanodon were discovered during a quarry excavation on Queen’s Road back in 1834, Maidstone has never lost its connection with the prehistoric find. A cast of the bones named ‘Iggy’, can be found at Maidstone Museum and he was also the first dinosaur to feature on a coat of arms!

The town also has a bit of a reputation for food and drink! George Foster Clark, was best known for his custard powder and other recipes between 1910 and 1965, while it was also the home to the largest toffee factory in the world. Founded by Sir Edward Sharp in 1911, the Kreemy Works Factory was later taken over by Trebor who produced sweets in Maidstone until 1991. Although originally established in Dover by Thos Grant and Sons Ltd, Grant’s Morella Cherry Brandy was later distilled in Maidstone where it flourished until the 1950s. Mentioned by Charles Dickens in the Pickwick Papers and thought to be a favourite with Queen Victoria, it is now produced by fellow Kentish brewers, Shepherd Neame (

Those new to the area, or if you need a reminder, will appreciate the exhibits at Maidstone Museum ( which also oversees the Maidstone Carriage Museum and the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Museum. Maidstone Borough Council Cabinet Member for Leisure and Arts, Cllr Claudine Russell said: “Our wonderful museum always plays a huge part of keeping the family entertained and informed throughout the year and we look forward to a whole year packed with fantastic exhibitions, events and even a new gallery. What many people don’t realise that Maidstone Museum is free to enter, and I would encourage everyone to come and see for themselves the amazing artefacts and displays it has to offer.”

The area boasts excellent schools including Oakwood Park Boys' Grammar, Maidstone Girls' Grammar and Invicta Grammar School for Girls. Getting around and further afield is via stations including Maidstone East (for Victoria and Blackfriars) and Maidstone West (for St Pancras via Stratford and Ebbsfleet International). There’s also frequent bus services and direct access to the M20. Property comes in the form of homes to suit every taste and budget. Converted oast houses, period homes and quaint cottages can all be found locally.


Great British Life: Pub lunch perfection...The Bull Inn at Linton Pub lunch perfection...The Bull Inn at Linton (Image: Frankie Julian)


Enjoy award-winning hand-crafted spirits and cocktails in one of the county’s most unique drinks venue at Maidstone Distillery ( The stylish town-centre bar is set in the heart of the working distillery, with the beautiful copper still dominating the space…there’s more about the distillery’s founders below. For a delicious pub lunch check out The Bull ( in Linton. It’s not just visitors who flock here, local residents know well it’s the place for real ales, a menu with locally sourced ingredients, live music and quiz nights.

Notorious B.R.G ( in Barker Road, is conscious of how the food we eat affects the planet, so this independent eatery has both an extensive meat and vegan menu (with a keen emphasis that the vegan menu is not an afterthought!) Produce is locally sourced and green energy powers the restaurant. Another restaurant with a “keeping it local ethos” is The Square Fish Café ( in Lenham. From its signature fish and chips to monkfish steak, diners will be impressed by the modern elegant seafood dishes which merge with traditional fayre from land and sea.

Not many towns have an Argentinian restaurant, but Maidstone does…Buenos Aires Nights ( serves up the best in wines and steaks.


Great British Life: The North Downs, spaces and lots to do in this Kent town The North Downs, spaces and lots to do in this Kent town (Image: Peter Smith Getty Images)


The ultimate staycation, Leeds Castle ( is the perfect destination for a luxurious stay in unique and historic surroundings. From the holiday cottages, lakeside lodges and fun and quirky knight’s glamping, a stay here will suit a romantic weekend, family stay or catching up with friends. With access to the castle and grounds included for the duration of the stay, it truly is a beautiful backdrop to explore.

The Coach House in Harrietsham, ( provides a unique and enjoyable holiday house experience and is part of Stede Court Estate. A designated ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’ in the North Downs, this country location really does have it all. A good base for exploring, Delta Hotels Tudor Park Country Club ( has family hotel rooms and suites, along with spa and indoor pool. Golf lovers will embrace the opportunity to tee off from the 18-hole championship golf course.


Great British Life: Lenleys Home is very much a family business in Sandling Road Lenleys Home is very much a family business in Sandling Road (Image: Lenleys Home)


For retail therapy lovers then Maidstone definitely ticks the box. It boasts one of the largest selections of independent retailers in the country and wandering around the town brings special finds from unique businesses.

For the home there’s Lenleys ( in Sandling Road, which provides products from some of the world’s leading designers and craftsmen. It’s still very much a family business since it was founded in 1936. From here discover Royal Star Arcade ( where there’s Chelsea Buns ( a bespoke cake design business also offering sugarcraft tuition and other sweet treats.

Kilburn Jewellers ( creates bespoke and meaningful jewellery and new charity shop Demelza ( helps support local children who are facing serious or life-limited conditions, as well as their families.

An artisan market also takes place once a month. Over at The Mall ( the shopping centre offers the essentials from well-known high street names and has plenty of activities for families to enjoy.

Earl Street is the location for Fremlin Walk ( a base for well-known favourites such as Build-A-Bear Workshop and Waterstones but do check out Little Blue Finch ( for unique gifts, home and fashion. Our top tip? Go and have a wander for yourself!


Great British Life: Take a boat trip aboard The Kentish Lady Take a boat trip aboard The Kentish Lady (Image: The Kentish Lady)


As well as a visit to Mote Park, with its 30-acre lake, woodland and play area, a must do is a boat trip along the scenic Medway. The Kentish Lady River Boat ( is synonymous with Maidstone and provides unique experiences of the non-tidal upper River Medway between spring and autumn. It also provides a unique and exclusive tour of Allington Castle ( which is not open to the public but has its impressive Great Hall, beautiful gardens to see in all its glory. Of course, there’s another grand castle in the area, and whether you’re a history buff, lover of wildlife or simply want a great day out, Leeds Castle, ( is a must see.

The Hazlitt Theatre ( opened in 1955 and plays host to a wide variety of comedians, musicians, tributes, dance schools as well as local and national performers. The Maidstone Art Centre ( is a hidden gem at Marlpit Farm in Boughton Monchelsea. The not-for-profit organisation aims to make art accessible to everyone with its art and craft classes and workshops.


Great British Life: Darren and Sam Graves, founders of Maidstone Distillery, Darren and Sam Graves, founders of Maidstone Distillery, (Image: Maidstone Distillery)


Husband and wife team, Darren and Sam Graves, are the founders of Maidstone Distillery, an award-winning spirit manufacturer in the heart of the county town. Maidstone-born Darren was inspired by the town’s illustrious history of spirit production, and the couple are proud to have revitalised the tradition of distilling in Kent.

“All of our spirits are inspired by people and stories of our local area,” says Darren. “We’re so passionate about our heritage and our craft and excited to be able to share that with our community.”

Not only do Maidstone Distillery produce a range of premium gins and a luxury liqueur, but they also run a Gin School, as well as Distillery Tours and Cocktail Masterclasses, where visitors can experience life behind the still for themselves. With annual community events and a busy cocktail bar, Maidstone Distillery is a vibrant and pioneering stalwart of Maidstone's town centre.

Great British Life: Maidstone Distiller's beautiful copper still dominates the space Maidstone Distiller's beautiful copper still dominates the space (Image: Maidstone Distillery)