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Why is Wadhurst the best place to live in the UK?

Old oast houses converted to housing, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
Old oast houses converted to housing, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson

Named the best place to live in the UK by the Sunday Times last year for offering 'pretty much everything needed for modern life in miniature', Wadhurst sits in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and has a fascinating history that gives it character and charm.

 

OAST HOUSE
With Wadhurst a mere stone’s throw from the Kent border, it’s not surprising to see the occasional Oast house. This one, just off the High Street, has been converted into a modern house.

 

Great British Life: Bewl Water, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonBewl Water, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
OPEN WATER
The largest stretch of inland open water in the south-east, Bewl Water reservoir straddles the border of Sussex and Kent. It’s a beautiful place to walk but it’s also perfect for trout fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, and canoeing.

 

Great British Life: Church Gate House, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonChurch Gate House, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
CHURCH GATE HOUSE
Church Gate House is a 16th century two-storey timber-framed building. You can just make out where the front door used to be below the pediment - the little ‘porch’ hanging over from the top floor.

 

Great British Life: The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonThe Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
CHURCH OF ST PETER & ST PAUL
The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul has been a part of the Wadhurst community for hundreds of years. The oldest part of the church, the tower, dates back to the 1100s, possibly earlier, with the rest having been added on over subsequent centuries. The church is famous for the large number of iron memorial slabs on the floor, about 30 or so, more than any other church in England.

 

Great British Life: Ancient sundial carved into the walls of the Church of St Peter, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonAncient sundial carved into the walls of the Church of St Peter, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
SUNDIAL
​The remains of this centuries-old sundial can be seen just to the left of the door to the church. It’s a bit worn now but is a rarely seen thing on church buildings.

 

Great British Life: Possible dole-table at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonPossible dole-table at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
DOLE TABLE
A dole table was where food or money was handed out by the church to the poor of the market town, or those passing through. There is sadly no direct proof that this is what this is, but it seems very likely. If it is so, it could well be one of the oldest in the country. Giving out charity like this is where the phrase ‘On the dole’ came from.

 

Great British Life: Milestone to London 45 miles away, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonMilestone to London 45 miles away, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
MILESTONE
Hidden in the bushes on the way to the railway station is this milestone giving the distance, in Latin, to London. XLV indicates it’s 45 miles away. 

 

Great British Life: Memorial to the war dead of the village in the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonMemorial to the war dead of the village in the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
MEMORIAL PLAQUE
One of the darkest days in Wadhurst’s history is remembered in this memorial plaque inside the church. On May 9, 1915, the Royal Sussex Regiment was heavily involved in the battle at Aubers Ridge on the Western Front in France, a few miles west of Lille. The battle was a complete disaster for the British, with no ground won and no tactical advantage made at all. Among the thousands of British troops killed, Wadhurst lost 25 men that morning. Since 2000, Wadhurst has been twinned with the French town of Aubers in their memory.

 

Great British Life: Wadhurst High Street (c) Andrew HassonWadhurst High Street (c) Andrew Hasson
WADHURST HIGH STREET
The High Street is largely made up of independent shops each with its own character on the north side. The buildings on the south side are noticeably more modern. That side was once dominated by The Queens Hotel which was sadly demolished after a Gloster Meteor crashed into it in January 1956. Not an actual meteor, this was Britain’s first jet fighter plane and the Allies’ only jet aircraft to be deployed during World War 2.

 

Great British Life: Kemps and Olivers Cottage, Wadhurst (c) Andrew HassonKemps and Olivers Cottage, Wadhurst (c) Andrew Hasson
KEMPS AND OLIVERS
The gorgeous 17th century Kemps and Olivers Cottage in the Lower High Street. I’m a particular fan of the chunky central chimney.

 

Great British Life: Welcome to Wadhurst signage (c) Andrew HassonWelcome to Wadhurst signage (c) Andrew Hasson
VILLAGE SIGN
The pretty village sign depicts Oast houses, an anvil, and an iron slab. Rather lovely.

 

Great British Life: Jemma Alderson, Ruth Dunnett and Pauline Chandler L-R (c) Andrew HassonJemma Alderson, Ruth Dunnett and Pauline Chandler L-R (c) Andrew Hasson

THE LOCAL VIEW

Jemma Alderson: ‘You can get anything here in the village. There’s a supermarket, grocery shop, we have everything on our doorstep, it’s fantastic. I moved from London ten years ago and I didn’t even know my neighbour, and here I know everyone. It’s such a lovely community.’

Ruth Dunnett: “ What’s special for me is the people – so many want to do things and be involved with the community.’ 

Pauline Chandler: ‘I volunteer at Carillon Cottage, which is service to help and support locals, and we have people through our door all the time. We help them with enquiries about Age UK, applications for Blue Badges, everything including snacks and a chat. We offer people a welcome pack if they’ve just moved here.’ 



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