Tenterden, the long-dubbed "Jewel of the Weald", still sparkles. Reams of heritage buildings house one-off shops; thriving festivals and nearby vineyards add even more shine.
Tenterden's townscape is idyllic. Swathes of greens are lined with trees; a wealth of ancient architecture includes white-painted weatherboarding, tile-hung fascias and unique 'mathematical tiles'. It creates a relaxed, irresistible environment in which to shop. Friday brings a vibrant market; quirky, upmarket, independent stores are everywhere.....many specializing in gifts, books, collectibles and - especially - antiques. Quaint cafes and smart eateries lie dotted around.
The vineyards encircling Tenterden provide a tempting focus for a gourmet mini break. Amongst them is Chapel Down Winery, producer of world-acclaimed vintages. Take in a tour and tutored tasting, then a memorable meal in the vineyard's much-lauded Swan restaurant.
The Kent & East Sussex Railway provides don't-miss steam-powered vingage voyages, puffing through undulating Wealden landscapes to fairy-tale Bodiam Castle. The town's compelling history is revealed at Tenterden & District Heritage Museum where engaging displays outline hopping and brewing heritage and a prestigious Cinque Ports past.
Nearby, sits 16th century Smallhythe Place. The charming former home of famous Shakespearian actress Ellen Terry, its nationally-significant theatrical collection includes a stunning beetle-wing dress.
Each July the Tentertainment festival brings a feast of free music, fine foods and family-fun to the Recreation Ground. While October's Tenterden Folk Festival sees a marvelous melange of music, dance and song flow out of the pubs and onto the streets.
The pools, slides, fountains and monsoon rains of the Tenterden Leisure Centre provide endless entertainment. Waymarked rural walking trails circle the town; appealing cycle routes offer shor - and long-distance rides.
The London Beach Golf Club delivers nine challenging holes, plus a country club hotel and sparkling spa. An array of other accommodation, spanning quality hotels, comfy self-catering and snug B&Bs, ensures you can doze off in style.