Camber Sands is a lovely place to experience a typical day at the beach. Just half an hour from Barnfield House, this miles-long beach of golden sand is gorgeous in all seasons; the first photo was taken on Boxing Day. In winter we take bracing walks along the promenade, or on the beach at low tide when huge swathes of sand are uncovered, stretching up to a mile out to sea. In warmer weather, kids love building sandcastles, paddling in the shallow water, and exploring the sand dunes. And of course in summer the place is buzzing with families enjoying at typical English day at the beadh! And there’s excellent kite surfing for the water sports enthusiast year-long too.
Kent and East Sussex offer many more beaches, but Camber Sands is our favourite. During your day at the beach, do visit Rye and explore the maze of cobbled lanes lined with medieval, Tudor and Georgian buildings (many now pubs and tearooms). We also recommend that you take a short detour to Winchelsea, one of the Cinque Ports built in the 13th Century, and today the smallest town in England to have its own mayor. In medieval times it was a hub for the wine trade; you can book a fascinating tour of the medieval cellars in the summer.
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.
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.
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!
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
A word to the wise… make a date in your diary for the last weekend of June when the Wealden Literary Festival springs into life in the enchanting setting of Boldshaves Garden just 15 miles from Barnfield House Kent. Now in its fourth year, this family-friendly festival fizzes with words, ideas, local food, arts and crafts, outdoor activities and creative workshops. Over the course of the weekend, renowned authors, poets, artists and makers will converge on this gorgeous corner of the Weald of Kent to share ideas and inspiration on nature, wilderness and the spirit of place. Both days are jam-packed with activities to keep all the family delightfully entertained as well as informed.
Book into workshops on creative writing with Tanya Shadrick (Wealden’s writer in residence for 2019), botanical illustration with Emma Mitchen, natural dyeing with Francesca Baur, willow-weaving with expert basketmaker Julie Gurr, spoon carving with Jill Swan, bookbinding and design with Hope Fitzgerald ,Wealden’s artist in residence for 2019, and – intriguingly – the mindful observation of sounds in nature with musical composer Laurence Rose.
Wander the gardens and woodland at Boldshaves in a wildlife safari Mark Cocker, celebrated naturalist and author of best-loved books about nature including Crow Country and Our Place. Learn firecraft with Phil from Badger Bushcraft or go foraging with Rural Courses founder Michael White.
Sip award-winning English sparkling wine hand-crafted by Woodchurch Vineyard made from grapes grown less than a mile away from the Festival site. Tuck into a rustic vegetarian feast served up by the Plant Pantry. And feed your spirit with daily meditation and yoga.
Perhaps the heart of the festival is the opportunity to meet with authors and hear them in conversion or reading from their published works. Here are a few sessions that grabbed our attention.
29th June 11.45 – 12.45
PETER MARREN – EMPERORS, ADMIRALS AND CHIMNEY SWEEPERS: THE NAMING OF BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS
Let Peter Marren take you on a journey back to a time before the arts and science were divided – when entomologists were also poets and painters, and when a gift for vivid language went hand-in-hand with a deep pre-Darwinian fascination for the emerging natural world. One of the country’s most celebrated naturalists and author of books including Chasing the Ghost, Bugs Britannica and Rainbow Dust, Marren’s latest book Emperors, Admirals and Chimney Sweepers is the first comprehensive guide to the names of butterflies and moths.
29th June 15.00 – 16.00
LAURENCE ROSE & JULIAN HOFFMAN IN CONVERSATION: THE NIGHTINGALE’S SONG
Learn about the unique songs and cultural significance of nightingales, the bird’s fragile future in Britain, and the nature of loss and possibilities for replenishment. The author of The Long Spring which examines the joints between nature, conservation and culture, Laurence Rose has been getting to know the nightingale population at Boldshaves in connection with his next book. Julian Hoffman’s latest book Irreplaceable: The Fight to save our Wild Places is an urgent and lyrical account of endangered places around the globe and the people fighting to save them.
29th June – 16.00 to 17.00
EMMA MITCHELL – THE WILD REMEDY: HOW NATURE MENDS US The Wild Remedy is a truly unique book for anyone who has ever felt drawn to nature and wondered about its influence over us. Emma Mitchell has suffered with depression – or as she calls it, ‘the grey slug’ – for twenty-five years. After moving to the Cambridgeshire Fens some 15 years ago, she began to take walks in the countryside around her new home, photographing, collecting and drawing as she went. Each walk lifted her mood, proving to be as medicinal as any talking therapy or pharmaceutical. In this beautifully hand-illustrated diary, she explores the paths and trails around her cottage and further afield, sharing her nature finds and tracking the lives of local flora and fauna over the course of a year. Reflecting on how these encounters impact her mood, Emma’s moving and candid account of her own struggles is a powerful testament to how reconnecting with nature may offer some answers to today’s mental health epidemic. While charting her own seasonal highs and lows, she also explains the science behind such changes, calling on new research into the benefits of spending time outdoors.
30th June 10.30 to 11.30
NAOKO ABE – ‘CHERRY INGRAM’: THE ENGLISHMAN WHO SAVED JAPAN’S BLOSSOMS
As told on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week,‘Cherry’ Ingram is the irresistible story of Japanese cherry blossoms, threatened by political ideology and saved by an unknown Englishman based in the Weald of Kent. Collingwood Ingram, known as ‘Cherry’ for his defining obsession, was born in 1880 and lived in Benenden until he was a hundred, witnessing a fraught century of conflict and change. Over decades, Ingram became one of the world’s leading cherry experts and shared the joy of cherry blossoms both nationally and internationally. Every spring we enjoy his legacy. ‘Cherry’ Ingram is a portrait of this little-known Englishman, a story of Britain and Japan in the twentieth century and an exploration of the delicate blossoms whose beauty is admired around the world.
30th June – 17.15 to 18.15
NEIL ANSELL & DAN RICHARDS IN CONVERSATION
Neil Ansell and Dan Richards explore their experiences of the remote and wild places on the edge of human civilisation.
Shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2018, Neil Ansell’s The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence explores the experience of being in nature alone within the context of a series of walks he took into the most remote parts of Britain, the rough bounds in the Scottish Highlands. He illustrates the impact of being alone as part of nature, rather than outside it.
In Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth, Dan Richards explores the appeal of far-flung outposts in mountains, tundra, forests, oceans and deserts. Following a route from the Cairngorms of Scotland to the fire-watch lookouts of Washington State, from Iceland’s ‘Houses of Joy’ to the Utah desert; frozen ghost towns in Svalbard to shrines in Japan; Roald Dahl’s Metro-land writing hut to a lighthouse in the North Atlantic, Richards explores landscapes which have inspired writers, artists and musicians, and asks: why are we drawn to wilderness? What can we do to protect them? And what does the future hold for outposts on the edge?
It’s going to be a wonderful weekend! Check ticket prices (there’s no charge for children up to age 14) and book author events, creative workshops and outdoor adventures via the official website website www.wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk
Saturday June 29, 2019 10:00 AM – 07:00 PM
Sunday June 30, 2019 10:00 AM – 07:00 PM
Woodchurch, Kent TN26 3RA
Thinking of experiences that may entertain your nearest and dearest this Fathers Day? How about making a beeline to Bewl Water for the Austin Seven Rally on Sunday 16th June (from 10.30am). Give him the chance to see up close some classic pre-1972 cars, commercials and motorbikes, chat about classic cars to his hearts content, and even acquire spare parts at the auto jumble.
There is no charge apart from the Bewl Water standard £4 parking fee. So once you’ve had you fill of Austin Sevens, you can spend the day exploring the 800-acre Bewl Water Country Park — a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Take to the water in a rowing boat or enjoy a walk or cycle following the path round the reservoir. Pack your own picnic, join in the BBQ slated to fire up near to the Austins, or book a special Father’s Day meal at the Boat House Bistro overlooking the water…. the menu looks delicious.
Boat House Bistro 01892 890000
There’s so much on in the Weald of Kent this month! Something not to miss is South East Open Studios (SEOS), a creative event running til the 23rd June where artists, craftspeople, printmakers and designers open their studio spaces to the public. Its your chance to meet artists up close and personal, learn about their process, passion and philosophy, and see them at work. Many will be giving demonstrations and sharing stories behind their creations, and most will be offering their works for sale (at direct-to-artist prices without gallery mark-ups).
Some 200 artists are participating this year (the 22nd year of this annual event), many of them on our doorstep. Within a few miles of Barnfield House Kent, you have the chance to see talented artists such as. Sue Scullard (wood engravings), Felicity Flutter (watercolours inspired by the sea), Nicola Colbran (wildlife oil paintings), Jackie Summerfield (ceramic wildlife sculptures), Katie Brinsley (ceramic tableware), Ali Stump (etchings), and Peter M Clarke (metal garden sculptures).
Download a guide and suggested itineraries from SEOS’s informative website (http://www.seos-art.org), or create your own art trail through the enchanting countryside of Kent and East Sussex – truly the Garden of England. You could return home with a piece of art you’ll treasure for a lifetime!
Looking for a great day out (or two) in Kent this weekend? Why not head over to the Hole Park Estate for the annual Wealden Times Midsummer Fair. This popular event is in its 11th year, and is set to be the biggest and best yet, with over 250 handpicked exhibitors spread across five large marquees as well as outside in the avenue and around the show-ground.
Browse beautifully curated contemporary and vintage home wares, garden accessories, paintings and ceramics, and fabulous fashion and hand-crafted jewellery. All products sold at the fairs are chosen for their exceptional quality, good craftsmanship, originality and fine design — it’s impossible to leave empty-handed!
Keep up your stamina with mouth-watering treats and gourmet samples from an array of street food vendors,, enjoy a steaming cup of artisanal coffee, or kick back with a glass of sparkling wine from local vineyards. Take a break in the Deck Chair Zone while listening to live music from local schools and bands. And check out the talks and workshops in the Home & Garden Hub, where you can learn everything from upscaling furniture to creating the perfect table setting, and keep bees. I’ve got my eye on the 10.30a, talk on Friday 7th, when gardeners from world-famous Sissinghurst Castle Garden share tips on growing vegetables the no-dig way.
The fair is set in the stunning grounds of the Hole Park estate. If you’re there on Thursday 6th, do attend the 2pm talk on the history of Hole Park given by Edward Barham, the fourth generation of his family to live there. And while there, remember to enter the competition to be in with a chance to win a pair of diamond earrings worth £795.
Wealden Times Midsummer Fair
6, 7 & 8 June 2019
Hole Park, Rolvenden, TN17 4JB
Adult £9.00 advanced booking, £10.00 on the day
Child aged 5 – 15 £4.00
Child under 5 free
English Wine Week might now be over, but who needs an excuse to celebrate the excellent wines of Kent and East Sussex?
70 years after the first commercial vineyard was planted in Hampshire in 1952, there are well over 500 vineyards across the UK, of which over 150 — some 75% of the total acreage under vines – are in South East England. According to WinesGB, the official website for the wines of Great Britain, a record 3 million vines were planted in England and Wales this past year, equating to an additional 690 hectares of vineyards and a 24% increase in the overall land now under vine… much of it in Kent and Sussex. Amazingly, this makes the UK one of the world’s fastest growing wine regions.; last year’s hot summer and bumper harvest yielded some 15.6m bottles, making 2018 the UK’s most successful vintage to date.
With Barnfield House Kent so well placed within a short drive of some of England’s finest vineyards, we can think of no better way to spend a summer day than touring the Kent wineries, sampling award-wining sparking wines, and wending your way through glorious countryside dotted with the country’s distinctive white-cowled oast houses, medieval villages and market towns. Biddenden, Lamberhurst, Hush Heath, Chapel Down… the very names evoke a sense of the timelessness of the Kent landscape and its rich heritage.
For example, England’s leading wine producer Chapel Down near Tenterden offers guided tours (from March to November) that include a visit to the vineyards and winery followed by a tutored tasting of their award-winning range of sparkling and still wines. Hush Heath in Staplehurst offers tutored tastings in a brand new visitors centre. The family-run Biddenden Vineyard offers both private and charity tours. And just across the country line into Sussex, England’s oldest organic wine estate Seddlescomb Organic Vineyard offers guided and self-guided tours as well as a woodland walk.
Visit Kent photo of Chapel Down
To make the most of a wine-oriented day out, and enjoy the freedom to imbibe a glass or three, we suggest you leave the car behind and book a bespoke tour organised by experts. With Vine and Country Tours, you can look forward to a mouth-wateringly memorable day out in the company of delightfully well-informed guides…and they will pick you up from the front door!.