Barnfield House Kent

Barnfield House Kent

Family-owned 5-bedroom holiday rental • Sleeps 10 • 2-acre gardens • Glorious views

Kent Advent Calendar – day 11 – Hawkhurst Now

Hawkhurst Colonnade

Our last post on Hawkhurst took a peek at its history. Today we take a look at the village as it is now. Hawkhurst is really two villages joined together: Highgate with its famed 19th Century Grade 11 listed Colonnade and, less than a mile south, the Moor where you’ll find the 13th Century St Laurence Church, its spire visible across farmland from our family holiday rental.

The white weather-boarded buildings in the picturesque Colonnade house an array of independent family-run shops, the oldest being Hawkhurst Pharmacy which according to Historic England was founded in 1830, around the time the Colonnade was built. There’s also a butcher (Park Farm Butchers), a bakers (Rye Bakery)…but no candlestick maker (though you can probably buy some across the road at vintage Charlie’s Orange). More recent (20th and 21st Century) arrivals to the Colonnade include Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winners Lindsay Barrow Designer Florist, clothing boutique Cordelia James, Two Chicks gift shop, and the Green Shop which raises money for the Hawkhurst Community as the League of Friends. Beyond the Colonnade is Ooh How Lovely, known for its eclectic gift selection and homewares. Other independent shops and services include hairdressers, beauticians, a barber, gym and craft shop. It’s wonderful to have so many independent shops in the village; the only high street names are Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets.

Hawkhurst Colonnade

Opposite the Colonnade and housed in the 1875 Victoria Hall is the Kino, the UK’s first ever digital cinema – a fantastic resource for the village, showing a range of blockbusters, documentaries, and arthouse movies.

Fancy eating in but not cooking? Order in a kebab, fish & chips or Chinese take-aways. The Prince of Kent is a popular Indian restaurant in the village, and pubs include the Royal Oak at the crossroads (known for its Friday steak night), the Oak & Ivy (on the Hawkhurst Smugglers trail), the Eight Bells on the Moor (with excellent set and a la carte menus and weekly steak, burger and fish-n-fizz nights), and the Great House in Gills Green, which offers with its elegant Orangery and dining area.

View of countryside from Barnfield House
Spot the church spire in the distance!

Family days out in Kent & East Sussex

There are so many places to see and things to do when on holiday in Barnfield House Kent. Here are some of our favourites — ideas that will appeal to adults and kids of all ages.

Great Dixter Gardens

We’re lucky to have England’s most famous gardens within a short drive — the kind that attracts visitors from around the world. My favourite is Great Dixter Gardens an eight-mile drive away in Northian, East Sussex, known as “a place of pilgrimage for horticulturalists.  from across the world”.  Great Dixter is a riot of colour in the summer months, and is fascinating any time of the year. You can also visit the Tudor house, extensively restored by Edwin Lutyens. Allow time for a tea break in their enchanting garden cafe. And do check out their events calendar of talks, tours and workshops.

Camber Sands

Just half an hour from Barnfield House, this miles-long beach of golden sand is gorgeous in all seasons —this photo was taken on Boxing Day! We take bracing walks along the promenade, or on the beach at low tide. Kids love building sandcastles, paddling in the shallow water, and exploring the sand dunes. And there’s excellent kite surfing for the water sports enthusiast.

Bodiam Castle

The 14th Century Bodiam Castle is just what you’d imagine a medieval castle should be: four castellated towers complete with arrow slits reflected in the encircling moat, further protected by a portcullis, and in a fairytale countryside setting. One of the most photographed castles in Britain today, this National Trust site it’s only five miles from Barnfield House. Do visit!

Picturesque villages

Barnfield House is an excellent base for exploring the many beautiful villages of the Weald of Kent and East Sussex. Within walking distance of the house is Hawkhurst, with its Victorian weather-board shopping colonnade and pubs (among them the historic Oak & Ivy Inn, from where the notorious 18th Century Hawkhurst Gang ran their smuggling ring).

Cranbrook four miles away is blessed with the medieval St Dunstan’s church, 15th century cottages, a fascinating museum, and the tallest working mill in England. Glorious countryside drives from Barnfield House reveal more picturesque villages with quaint tearooms, cosy pubs, insta-perfect pastoral settings and poetic names that roll off the tongue – Biddenden, Beneden, Rovenden, Smarden, and Tenterden. Plus lots more ‘hursts’ (meaning wooded area) including Goudhurst, Lamberhurst and Ticehurst.

National Trust Attractions

We are so lucky to have an amazing selection of National Trust-run historic houses, castles and gardens within a 30-mile radius — the closest being a 10-minute drive away.  It’s worthwhile paying for a National Trust annual membership even if only staying a week in the area.

Bodiam Castle – (see above) 5 miles

Sissinghurst Castle Garden – renowned gardens created by Bloomsbury poet Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson. 6 miles

Scotney Castle – country house, moated castle and wooded estate. 7 miles

Batemans — Jacobean house, home of Rudyard Kipling. 8 miles.

Smallhythe Place – Victorian actress Ellen Terry’s 16th century house and cottage garden. 13 miles

Lamb House Rye – Georgian house with literary associations. 15 miles

Stoneacre — medieval yeoman’s house and garden. 17 miles

Chiidingstone Village – one of the oldest and most beautiful villages in Kent. 23 miles

Ightham Mote — 14th century moated manor house. 24 miles

Old Soar Manor — remans of a 13th Century knight’s dwelling. 24 miles

Knole — historic house and 1,000-acre wild deer park. 25 miles

Coldrum Long Barrow — created 1,000 years before Stonehenge. 25 miles

Alfriston Clergy House — medieval thatched Wealden hall-house. 27 miles

Sheffield Park & Gardens — historic parkland, woodland and landscaped gardens. 28 miles

Chartwell — family home of Sir Winston Churchill, 30 miles