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 Goudhurst!
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…? Goudhurst, that’s where!
Nestled at the top of a hill is this beauty spot of a Kentish village, complete with white weatherboarding, oast houses and a duck pond. A family favourite due to the fact it sits pretty in the highly sought after catchment of the only co-ed grammar in the area.
The name derives from ‘Good Hurst’ – an opening in the forest – and was established as a village due to its strategic position at the top of the hill. Nowadays that hill top location leads to stunning views over the beautiful countryside of the High Weald.
The nearest train stations are in Marden and Staplehurst. Both around a 10 minute / 6 miles drive away and both offering direct 50 min journeys into London Bridge. Staplehurst also has the advantage of a large car park for easy commuting and a very handy taxi firm for any boozy London lunches (just saying).
A 20 minute drive to the A21 then gives you easy access to the M25 and motorway network or drive south for 40 mins and find yourself scampering across the pretty East Sussex coastline.
When it comes to transport – the only downside of the village, but one that needs to be mentioned, is that traffic can get busy at times on the narrow snaking road which cuts through Goudhurst’s centre.
IN LOVE WITH LOCAL
As villages go there’s a pretty good offering here… Goudhurst has grocery stores, a newsagents (which still includes a post office), a chemist, a bakery, a lovely tea shop, a fashion boutique and even an antique shop, all on the main High Street.
Taywell Farm Shop just outside the main village is a hidden gem not to be missed, not least for its much lauded Taywell Ice Cream in 15 flavours, including Kentish Lavender. The new addition of a coffee pop up wagon called Coffee Buzz and picnic tables outside offer a chance to take a pause from the hectic day to day.
For food you’re pretty spoilt for choice – there’s The Goudhurst Inn, a fantastic local pub and boutique hotel, with great indoor and outdoor seating, local fresh produce and owned by the local Hush Heath Estate, so a selection of great local wine and Jake’s Cider too.
Not far away, Hush Heath itself has a beautiful restaurant and terrace, serving amazing food with their own wines. You can also tour the vineyards, orchards and wild flower meadows, after which you’ll need to refuel with a glass of something chilled and a food platter.
The 14th Century Star & Eagle Pub and Hotel is located right at the top end of the High Street and offers cosy inside space or a lovely terrace looking out over the surrounding countryside.
Further afield there’s the The Milk House in Sissinghurst or The Small Holding which won Best Restaurant in Kent in the Muddy Awards 2021 and sits in nearby Kilndown – with the mission of growing, rearing and foraging as much of the food that’s cooked as possible being at the heart of its ethos. Winner of the rare new MICHELIN Green Stars – this one is definitely worth a visit.
OUT AND ABOUT
You’re very well positioned here for family outdoor activities. Head to Bedgebury Forest for its adventure and bike trails, children’s play areas, Go Ape and even campsite.
You’ll want Bewl Water, for walking, cycling, sailing and other water sports, wild swimming and – popular with kids of all ages (yes, even teens love it) — the inflatable Aqua Park.
There’s Lower Ladysden Farm – a great PYO, including the upcoming Pumpkin season, with an amazing farm shop and also offering you the chance to lose your kids for a while in the Maize Maze.
For secondary schools, Goudhurst falls within the much coveted Cranbrook School Catchment Area (CSCA). Cranbrook School – the only co-educational grammar school in the area – is 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).
Goudhurst also has Bethany School, an independent mixed school which has amazing facilities and has a good reputation for students of all abilities.
Easy bus routes or the train from Marden gives you access to the excellent Grammar Schools in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
There is no getting away from the fact that Goudhurst is an extremely desirable place to live and house prices reflect this fact. The combination of hill top location, stunning views, easy accessibility and Cranbrook School Catchment Area all result in the average prices of a 4 bed family home being in the region of £700K and a larger 5/6 bed family home selling around or over the £1 million price tag.
WHY WE LOVE IT
If it’s a rural idyll you’re after you’ll love this quintessential Wealden village with a lovely pond and a buzzy, community feel. As well as pretty properties galore, this is one of the highest villages in Kent, so many of the properties have amazing views.
With access to great state and independent schools it’s a very family-friendly place to set up home, plus it’s the perfect springboard for enjoying the great outdoors at the weekends.
Those views, the location and the High Street still with thriving local shops… surrounded by the beautiful High Weald countryside, great pubs, restaurants and places to visit and be active and entertained, all combined with great schools on your doorstep … shall we stop now?