Thinking about upping sticks? In our regular report, we snoop around one of the hidden property hotspots in the Muddy ‘hood to get the local lowdown. Introducing Cranbrook!
Love to daydream about moving house? So do we! That’s why we created this regular column, in which we take our ogling addiction to the next level.
Outside the bigger tempting towns, our county is bursting with rural or suburban sweet spots – often with exceptional shops, restaurants, schools, transport links and community spirit.
So we asked our expert Fiona Penny – who founded Fiona Penny Bespoke Home Finders 13 years ago and knows both the property industry and this area of the country inside out – to lift the curtain on these Kent destinations.
Where to this week…? Cranbrook, that’s where!
Cranbrook is a bustling, popular, small town, smack bang in the middle of the beautiful High Weald area of Kent, lying roughly halfway between Maidstone and Hastings on the A229 and about midway between Tunbridge Wells and Ashford on the other axis (if we’re going to get technical about it).
Here you are literally surrounded by beautiful Kent countryside and quintessential Kentish villages.
It’s a 15 mins drive to Staplehurst station from where Southeastern trains take 50 mins into London Bridge or it’s a 20 mins drive to Headcorn station where it takes just under an hour to London Bridge.
Not forgetting that a 30 mins drive takes you to the Ashford International, with fast trains into London and, in the other direction, across the Channel into Europe. By car, a 20 min drive to the M20 takes you into London or down to the ferries at Folkestone. So nothing is too far away.
And when it comes to the centre of the town itself you’ll find that rare and precious thing – a High Street packed with indie shops. Whether it’s the County Cookshop, the Butchers, the Bookshop or Hairdressers – there’s something for all your practical needs.
And while you’re lugging all those bags around you’ll need to pause for refreshments so nip into The Wendy House for coffee, cakes or ice-creams. Or for drinks and dining The George Hotel is a popular gastropub for both date nights and family dining. There’s even a family run micropub, Larkins’ Alehouse.
Home-workers will also want to know about The Hive – an amazing community hub, right on the High Street, offering a buzzing social, collaborative and business space with a great café, alongside rooms you can book out for business meetings, plus free parking at all the local car parks to entice you in.
OUT AND ABOUT
Surrounded by the beautiful Kent countryside, Cranbrook has an amazing selection of places to visit close by, try the beautiful gardens at Sissinghurst Castle or the amazing forests, bike trails and childrens rustic play areas at Bedgebury National Pinetum – not to mention the Go Ape zipline and aerial adventure .
Or take yourself back in time to the moated 14th Century Bodiam Castle or the equally lovely moated ruins and parkland of Scotney Castle.
And, as if all of the above wasn’t enough, now we come to the real nub of what draws families to this area. It’s home to the ever-popular and ever-excellent (Ofsted rated Outstanding) Cranbrook School – the only co-educational grammar school in the area, plus one of the country’s few state boarding schools with education free to day pupils and boarders alike (so the only costs being those of accommodation).
This does mean houses in the town and the surrounding villages are always sought after and command a higher price by being located in the C.S.C.A (Cranbrook School Catchment Area) – an abbreviation you will become familiar with very quickly if you’re house hunting in the area!
Cranbrook also has many other excellent independent schools in the surrounding area, including co-educational Dulwich Prep Cranbrook, Marlborough House School and Saint Ronan’s School and the girls-only Benenden (senior school). For in-depth reviews on the stand-out schools in the area check out our Best Schools Guide.
Much sought after due to Cranbrook School and varied in size, style and price throughout the town and surrounding area. Properties shift fast so using a home finder service can prove invaluable.
A two-three bed terraced cottage is priced at around £300k and four-five bed detached properties on the outskirts of town average around £1 million plus.
WHY WE LOVE IT
Er, you have been reading, right? Basically, for families in particular, the exceptional grammar school offering (for both boys and girls) is an enormous draw.
Plus you’ve got all that wonderful Kent countryside with plenty of outdoor activities on the doorstep, while the town itself provides a small and perfectly formed slice of community and culture. We are SOLD!