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Tenterden Heritage Trail
An introduction to The Jewel of the Weald
The Heritage Trail starts at the Tenterden Gateway, 100 High Street, in Manor Row, on the north side of the greens (since the brochure was printed the Tourist Information Office has moved to the Town Hall)
In the Brochure
Tenterden's Coat of Arms
Tenterden's origins and growth
Our American cousins
William Caxton - first English printer
THE HERITAGE TRAIL
1. Manor Row and The Greens
This 1960’s parade, Manor Row, is on the site of a medieval manor house visited by the future Edward IIwhen, as Prince of Wales, he stayed in the town in 1305.
Markets were held on the Greens in the nineteenth century. The noise and stench, compounded by the smell from the gasworks, the tannery and brewery, and conditions underfoot were a cause of complaint and the animal fairs were transferred to the Recreation Ground.
The trees were planted in 1870/1 after heated debate, on the casting vote of the mayor.
Turn left out of the Gateway and left down Station Road
The Town’s Museum and a stationary engine are in the car park on the left. Opposite is the coach park, the site of Tenterden’s brewery, demolished in 1925.
Continue down Station Road to
2. Tenterden Station
The Kent & East Sussex light railway linked Headcorn with Robertsbridge in East Sussex. Tenterden station was built in 1903 and the line extended to Headcorn in 1905. A passenger link to London, it was also extensively used for transporting agricultural products, including cattle. Closed to passengers in 1954, part of the line was reopened in 1974 and a further section to Bodiam reopened later
Turn back from the Station and retrace just 20 yards and on your left turn into Church Path and then up the steep footpath that emerges after about 150 yards onto Church Road. Turn immediately left into small private car park
3. View Across Country to Roman Road
At this end of Church Road from the small car park look north across the valley to St Michael’s spire on the ridge. The Roman Road along this ridge was used to export Wealden iron and has been identified as the route taken 800 years later by the Norman army as it advanced on Dover and Canterbury after the Battle of Hastings.
Now turn round and walk down Church Road towards the High Street
On your right you pass Tenterden Day Centre (Now the Tenterden Social Hub), formerly the National School, established 1843. It was used as a school until 1973.
4. St Mildred’s Church
The 15th century four-stage tower on your left dominates the locality. The unusual double west door has a huge
perpendicular window above. The church can be entered at the south porch and a guidebook is available inside.
Stop at junction with the High Street
5. Lock-Up and Turnpike
The building on your left at the southeast corner of Church Road and the High Street was the police station until 1956 and the lock-up and turnpike booth prior that. You can still see the cell bars through the window. There was turnpike gate across the main road until about 1880.
At this point the main street narrows. This was the result of traders in the thirteenth century encroaching onto the King’s highway. Twelve horseshoes annually to the Crown was the price of staying there.
6. The Pebbles
From the junction look across the High Street to “The Pebbles” with imitation wooden masonry and quoins. Erected in 1780 by Dr Mace, the central doorway was built to enable him to ride his horse through to the stables at the rear. Traces of the pebbles are visible on the forecourt. In 1830-1, during repairs to the Vicarage, it was home to the family of Rev. Philip Ward and his wife Horatia, love child of Horatio Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton.
Turn left and continue up High Street 40 yards
Observe the butcher’s hooks above on the building (42 High Street) immediately before the path on the left to the Church.
Walk up this path leading to the south porch of the church and then right and then left halfway down the footpath alongside The Woolpack, noting the tombs on your left.
The distinctive brick vaulted tombs include those of the influential Curteis family. The tomb of Rev. Philip Ward, husband of Horatia Nelson, is almost hidden behind the second yew on the left as you walk towards the Vicarage.
Retrace your steps and turn left to
7. The Woolpack
This 16th century building was a coaching inn with access through the archway. Bishops and archbishops regularly stayed here when attending the church for confirmations.
8. The Town Hall
next door was built in 1790 as a replacement for the one burned down in 1661.The Georgian Assembly Room on the first floor has boards with the names of Bailiffs and Mayors since 1449, and a musicians gallery. Incorporated as a member of the Cinque Ports, Tenterden enjoyed extensive privileges including virtual self-government and exemption from national taxation in the 15th and 16th centuries.
As you continue along the High Street view the following on the opposite side
9. Wealden Hall House
This black and white building was originally a great hall open to the roof with a central hearth. The smoke
escaped through openings at the top of each gable. In the 16th century a huge chimney was built
at the east end and a floor inserted at first floor level.
10. The Miller’s/Chandler’s Warehouse
This three-storey 18th century building is immediately to the left of Sayers Lane. Looking up to the roof you
see the doors and pulley, clues to its former use. It has white wood quoins and is clad with “mathematical tiles”
(see item overleaf).
11. Ye Olde Cellars to the right of the old Embassy Cinema (5 High Street) formerly a bar below street level
was furnished with old casks, vats and barrels.
12. The Embassy Cinema (name on front of building) that opened in 1937 and closed in 1967 replaced an earlier Picture House at East Cross that is now a parade of shops and offices known as the Fairings.
13. The building
on the corner of Recreation Ground Road is the original Ivy Court, almost hidden by shops
built in its front garden, although its portico has been brought forward at the end of a long corridor to be flush
with the shop fronts. The18th century house is still intact. Cross over High Street at traffic lights and return on the
other side, looking across the High Street to building 14 and 15
14. The Old Grammar School (Nos 20/18)
Next door but one to the Town Hall are Nos 18 & 20, formerly the grammar school established about 1521 by
bequest “for the said chauntry prest for the tyme being at Tenterden to loige and teche his scolars”. By 1812 there were just 6 scholars and the school had ceased to exist by the mid-nineteenth century.
15. Cliff House (No 22)
Adjacent to the Town Hall is an 18th century two storey building with attic, home of Jeremiah Cliff, Apothecary to
the Workhouse. He left a complete record of the causes of death of all who died from 1713-40, including his maid,
who hanged herself in an upstairs room here in 1722.
Just beyond the pelican crossing turn left into Bells Lane
16. Bells Lane
This medieval lane leads out into the countryside to Smallhythe.
As you enter the lane note ;the jetty overhanging the lane rom the property to your right. This restaurant was formerly a
coaching inn whose changing names (The Angel, Six Bells, Eight Bells) have over the centuries reflected
its proximity and association with the church.
Bells Lane is bordered by eighteenth and nineteenth century cottages. Under one of these, Theatre Cottage, is a weatherboard-lined passage leading to Theatre Square, the site of the old Tenterden Theatre, built in 1794, and now divided into three cottages. Here, during the Napoleonic War, the officers from the Reading Street barracks socialised with the young ladies of the town. In later years the lane gained a reputation for drunkenness and immorality.
Take the first turning right off Bells Lane into Jackson’s Lane – follow it round
After just a few steps you pass a little building on your left with an inscription in the apex, “The Soup Kitchen 1875”. It was supported by public donation for Tenterden’s rural poor in the agricultural depression of the late nineteenth century.
Exit onto High Street and turn left, past the Pebbles and Bridewell Lane
This was originally Gas Lane and here was the town’s gasworks from about 1840 until the late 1940’s. At its junction with the High Street is the Zion Baptist Church, which was strongly supported and endowed by two local families, Rogers and Boorman. Tenterden had a strong Non-Conformist tradition.
Further along on your left is
17. Pittlesden Gatehouse, 91 High Street
This is a 15/16th century timber framed cottage with plaster filling, reputedly the oldest building in Tenterden and one of the gatehouses to the manor house opposite.
18. Borough Place, a row of colour washed brick houses where Tenterden’s workhouse was established in 1724, on the site of the original Elizabethan poor house.
Turn left into an alley between numbers 117/119 High Street
Note on the right hand side is Mayors Place, a row of modest cottages with a line of old outside privies.
Now retrace your steps to the Town Centre