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I really like Tenterden it is a really nice little kentish town with loads of awesome little shops and stores around the centre of the town. It is also very close to Ashford where you can get the train to France to. There is a really big tesco in Tenterden which is where my mum buys her groceries from so it must be quite good. There is also a large leisure centre with the bonus of having a swimming pool gym and tennis courts too. The price is nice as well. The houses in Tentereden are really special there are so many little cottage style houses with beautiful facades to stare at. There is also a good range of eteries in Tenterden and one of the the best Chinese restaurants i have come across. Without doubt i would say that Tentered i s a lovely old style town with good bus links and good shops. I am a massive fan.
I have been inspired to write a review on the place where I grew up, seeing as I'm spending a week at home, in the bosom of my loving family, and because I want people to know what a lovely place it is
Warning, this review is aided by my Year 5 project on the town (which I got a very disappointing mark for!)
Tenterden is thought to have first come about in Roman times, but in the 7th century King Egbert of Kent founded the Minster Abbey in Thanet. Clearings were made in the forests for pig pastures, and these clearings were used as dwellings for the hunters- hence the 'den'. The full name is said to have come from Tenet-ware-den.
Tenterden was for a long period an active player in the wool trade, along with surrounding towns like Cranbrook, and also, in the timber trade, building ships for the harbour at Rye, East Sussex. Tenterden is one of the cinque ports towns. That's French for five, er, ports!
That's about as much as I can decipher from the appalling hand-writing I had 11 years ago, and so, to spare my blushes, I'll move onto modern day.
Tenterden is set in deepest, darkest South East Kent, between Ashford, Hastings, and Maidstone.
Nowadays Tenterden is still a pretty agricultural town, holding regular markets and farmers markets, as well as yearly folk festivals (catch this at the beginning of October). It is also fairly famous for its hops, sheep and fruit, and is a fairly important service centre for the surrounding villages. The buildings are old, and a lot of them are listed buildings, with tudor style beams.
The main (C of E) church in Tenterden is St Mildred's, named after the Granddaughter of King Egbert, and the building dates back to 1180. It is a beautiful church, with 19th century stained glass windows. There are also about 5 more churches in Tenterden, including a Unitarian, a Roman Catholic, a Baptist, a Methodist, and St Michael's C of E (St Michael's is the adjoining village). The church is quite a large part of the community in Tenterden, as it is a small town, with a population of about 8,000, and there are many church meetings, committees, and choirs.
When I was growing up here, I can't exactly say I was ever too chuffed with the shops. It's a small rural town, and there's not much in the way of high fashion, although things have improved. High street stores include Woolworths, Clintons, WH Smiths, Fat Face, The Merchant Chandler, Monsoon, East and Viyella.
There is a branch of nearly every bank you can think of (which is why I think most people in Tenterden are fairly affluent, there's more banks than shops!). There are a number of tea rooms, and antique shops, and antique shops-cum-tearooms. My favourite place to trawl in Tenterden is the charity shops, you never know what bargains you might pick up for ebaying purposes!
There are a number of independent boutiques as well, and 3 supermarkets, so we won't starve, Co-op (I worked there for three years), Tesco (a new additions, contested by the public of Tenterden for years), and Waitrose. (for posh nosh). For sports nuts there is Tull Sports (an independent store), the boardroom (a skatewear store) and Apollo Cycle Sport (a cycle store that my parents used to own).
Quite a lot of Tenterden residents are fairly bohemian and eccentric, so there are many hippy type shops, the Thai Shop, Anatoli, and Kensal Gretel to name a few, selling quirky gifts and clothing.
If you want a mega shopping trip, Tenterden is definitely not the place to come, but Maidstone, Ashford (especially McArthur Glen Designer Outlet), and Canterbury, and Tunbridge Wells are nearby, with bus links to each.
***Posh Nosh and Drinkies***
On the subject of fodder, I may as well mention restaurants here, a frequent occurrence in Tenterden. There is a Prezzo, and Caffe Uno for the Italian Lovers, three Indian restaurant/takeaways, two Chineses, a Turkish, and a huge number of pubs, including the William Caxton, The Woolpack, and the Eight Bells, all fairly traditional. There are many other country ppubs nearby which serve stunning food, try the Bull in Bethersden, or the Pease and Plenty in Peasmarsh.
There has been rumours of a Wetherspoon's hitting the high street, but I'm fairly sure this is all fabrication, I think it would spoil the uniqueness of town. Tenterden has little in the way of nightlife. The Eight Bells is probably your best bet, with an upstairs pool lounge, but in my opinion, this is usually full of scallies. I usually go to Ashford for a bit of night action (by that I mean drinking and dancing, no saucy stuff). Ashford has a number of trendier bars, and two nightclubs.
Tenterden has 3 schools, which are the Infants, the Juniors, and Homewood school comprehensive and sixth form college. Both components of the primary school are great, and have high success rates, but also facilities for those with learning difficulties. Homewood is a large school, and I felt it wasn't right for me, but it turns out some great students, although there is a lot of focus now on performing arts. It has subjects to suit everyone though, and even has its own farm, for those with agricultural interests.
There are a number of other schools in the area, such as Highworth Grammar for Girls (my old school) and Norton Knatchbull Grammar for Boys, in Ashford, and huge amount of Private schools.
In my opinion, public transport in Tenterden is dire,a dn it was for this reason that I resented growing up here. I learnt to drive as soon as I could, as buses to Ashford, where all my friends lived are hourly, and take 40 minutes. There are also bus links to Maidstone, Hastings, and Tunbridge Wells . There is no train stations, the nearest is Headcorn (there is a rail link bus), and an International Station in Ashford., running Eurostar trains to Paris and Brussels, and also local services to Hastings and Rye, Canterbury, and London Charing Cross.
Tenterden is and has been home to a few famous people. I was toddling across the high street only a few weeks ago and stumbled across Vic Reeves and Nancy Sorrell (they live near Ashford I believe. Joanna Lumley is often spotted in Boots and Waitrose, and lives in nearby Woodchurch (I think). I have also seen Jan Francis and Tom Baker in Waitrose (see, told you it were posh nosh).
Dame Ellen Terry, a 19th Century actress also had a =home in Tenterden, called Smallhythe place, which is now open as a tourist attraction, and is one of the places I visited for research on my project all those years ago! The house is filled with gorgeous antiques and acting memorabilia, and a private theatre in an outside barn. This is definitely worth a visit.
Nicki French, who covered Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' (I'm scraping the barrel here) also originated from Tenterden, attending the Primary School,and also Homewood (her sister lives opposite me!)
***Attractions in Tenterden***
Tenterden Museum is situated in Station Road, and displays many agricultural implements and tools for hop-growing and crop-growing from days of yore.
Kent and East Sussex Railway is a steam train service, that runs from Tenterden, to nearby Northiam, and Bodiam Castle. There is a Santa Exress service at Christmas (a trip on the train for kids, with a pressie from Santa). There is also an evening dining service and kids can have their birthday parties on the train (I did, for my 7th!).
The Steam Train station was closed in 1961 but reopened as a tourist attraction in 1974. This is a great experience for kids and adults alike, so if you're stuck for ideas on where to go in Kent, here's your answer. (although I've been so many times now the very thought makes me queasy!)
For those hyper-active sporty people, there is a Leisure Centre, situated on Recreation Ground Road, with a 25m swimming pool, roller-skating, and gym facilities. There are swimming and gymnastic classes held for kids, along with activity days (great for working parents), aerobics for grown-ups, and spa, Jacuzzi and sauna facilities.
***Other Activities and Things To Do***
There usually always something going on at the town hall, from plays from Tenterden's amateur dramatic club (TODDS) to craft fairs, and seasonal fetes.
For kids these are dance classes, including Tenterden Ballet Studios, Smilie's Dance Studio, and Allycats Dance Studio (my sister is in all three, plus karate and martial arts, and Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Rainbows and Girl Guides to keep them in line!
Tenterden Gold Club and London Beach Golf Club are available if thats your cuppa tea.
There are a few good hotels in Tenterden and St Michaels, such as Little Silver Country Hotel, the William Caxton, and London Beach.
Tenterden has been described as the 'Jewel of the Weald', and 'the most delightful town in Kent' Now that I am older I can appreciate its beauty. As a teenager, I hated being in such a remote part of the world, and cursed my parents for not moving somewhere a bit more happening, but now I appreciate their decision to bring me up in such a place.
Tenterden is a great place to live, and to visit if you are historically or agriculturally inclined. It is a fantastic place to bring up kids, and to retire, as crime rates are low, and the town and shopping centre are fairly self contained. I would not suggest trying to live here with angsty teenagers, unless you are prepared to provide their very own taxi service, or if you expect a buzzing nightlife on your doorstep, Tenterden will not deliver!
More or less everybody knows each other in Tenterden, and most are polite and easy-going, although there has been a bit of a scally invasion recently. But that's just "bored-kids-in-a-small-town-itis", and I'm sure they'll grow out of it. Just avoid the vicinity of the Co-op on a Friday night and you are sorted!
***If it all gets too much***
Maidstone: 21.9 miles
Ashford: 12.4 miles (Eurostar Links to Paris and Brussels!)
Canterbury: 25.4 miles
Hastings: 20.8 miles
Rye: 12 miles
Dover:35 miles (then hop on the ferry to France!!)
London: 68 miles
I hope you enjoyed reading this and that I gave enough info on the delights of my hometown,. If I didn't, go to www.tenterdentown.co.uk, now, go, see and get the t-shirt.