Barnfield House Kent

Barnfield House Kent

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

Southeast England’s favourite family-friendly festival – Battle Festival of Arts & Music

Battle in East Sussex is named after England’s infamous Battle of Hastings which led to the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066. This market town is a magnet for history buffs and holiday makers from all over the world; you can visit the battleground where King Harold fell, as well as the abbey built as penance by William the Conqueror.

October has particular significance for this historic town. The anniversary of the Battle of Hastings falls on the 14th – and the entire month is devoted to the annual Battle Festival of Arts and Music. This critically acclaimed festival attracts visitors from across the UK, Europe and the USA, drawn by an exciting line-up of internationally acclaimed artists, and an eclectic programme of performances, exhibitions, events and activities.

Artist-in-residence Kerry Bennett soaring with her festival wings

You’ll find fabulous art pieces spread throughout Battle, from artist-in-residence Kerry Bennet’s  ceramic beehive installation in the Almonry Gardens to her and other artists’ fantastic Battle Beasts spread across the town. Aspiring artists have the chance to attend workshops on watercolour, acrylic, portrait and fantasy art. Film buffs can immerse themselves in movie classics both old and new. And the curious have the choice of some truly thought-provoking talks by experts in their respective fields, among them.  Hacking the Codes of Life with biologist Nessa Carey, Sir Ernest Shackleton – the Man & the Myths with eminent Polar historian Michael Smith, and A Conspiracy History of the World with Andy Thomas, one of the world’s leading researchers into unexplained mysteries and cover-ups.

There is also a stunning line-up for music and theatre lovers. Here are some programme highlights.

11th Oct – 7.30pm at St Mary in the Castle
Hastings Philharmonic, in partnership with Battle Festival and the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition (HIPCC), will open their 2019/2020 season with a concert at St Mary in the Castle featuring the winner of this year’s competition, Fumiya Koido. Conducted by Marcio da Silva, the concert will feature a wonderful programme of Mozart “Haffner” Symphony, Mozart Piano Concerto No.23 and Beethoven Symphony No.4.
£22.50 Stalls, £17.50 Balcony, under 18’s free. Tickets from Hastings Philharmonic and from St Mary in the Castle, Hastings Old Town

carnival of animals childrens music event

13th Oct – 1pm at Battle Memorial Hall
A fun-filled afternoon for the whole family. There will be various crafts including animal balloon workshops and colouring books on offer. Storytelling duo Spud and Yam will be presenting their unique blend of stories, dance and music in interactive sessions before world-class musicians take the stage for the main concert at 3.30pm
Primrose Piano Quartet plus top London soloists perform three all-time favourite pieces of music – The Carnival of the Animals, Peter and the Wolf and The Flight of the Bumblebee
Adults £5, Children £2.50. Book online.

The carrivick sisters bluegrass and  folk singers

15th Oct – 7.30pm at Whatlington Village Hall
One of the UK’s top young bluegrass and folk acts. Twins Laura and Charlotte perform their original songs and instrumentals along with a few carefully chosen covers on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and clawhammer banjo. They have built a reputation for engaging and entertaining live performances with tight sibling vocal harmonies and multi-instrumental virtuosity.
£12. Information here.

19th Oct – 7pm at St Marys Church
This is a rare opportunity to hear Bach’s most famous choral work – requiring two orchestras and a double choir – sung by Battle Choral Society together with other local singers.
Adults £17, Under 18s £15. Tickets online ) or from Rother Books and The Crafty Norman, or at Holden & Co Solicitors for purchasers by card (01424 722422).

19th Oct – 7.30pm at Battle Brewery
Now & Then are a Hastings-based a cappella group with a strong local following and a range that includes traditional and contemporary British folk, American gospel, west coast rock, and even Georgian harmony singing. Renowned for their unique blend of voices – no instruments, just pure vocal harmony heaven – the foursome promises an evening of songs that are moving, amusing, joyous … and occasionally rowdy. This is a free event.

Romeo and Juliet at Batle Festival

20th Oct – 2pm at Battle Abbey, the Abbott’s Hall
The greatest love story ever told will be performed in Battle Abbey Abbot’s Hall by Bowler Crab, a Sussex-based theatre company that blends minimalism and traditionalism in shortened ‘pocket’ productions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
£15, £10 under 18s. Tickets online  or from Rother Books or The Crafty Norman.

hastings international piano concerto competition winner

25th Oct – 7.30pm at St Mary the Virgin
Rising star of the piano world 25-year-old Maxim Kinasov from Russia presents a stunning programme featuring works by Beethoven, Franck, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninov.
£15, Under 18s free. Tickets available online, or from Rother Books or The Crafty Norman

Photo credits: Battle Festival of Arts and Music 

For more information, visit:

Battle Art and Music Festival logo

Wealden Literary Festival – a fun-filled weekend for all the family

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
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
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
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
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 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
Saturday June 29, 2019 10:00 AM – 07:00 PM
Sunday June 30, 2019 10:00 AM – 07:00 PM
Boldshaves Gardens
Woodchurch, Kent TN26 3RA
United Kingdom


Fathers Day in Kent – Austin Seven Rally at Bewl Water

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  

South East Open Studios

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 (, 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!