Known as the ‘Capital of the Weald’, Cranbrook is a pretty settlement with a medieval layout of streets and alleys. Many buildings date from the 15th century through to the 19th century.
With famous attractions nearby, plenty of accommodation and events running throughout the year, Cranbrook in the Weald of Kent is the ideal destination for both a short break or long vacation.
Things To Do in Cranbrook
Arguably, one of the greatest attractions is the windmill. The Union Mill is probably Cranbrook’s most famous landmark because it is one of the most superior smock mills in the UK and amazingly, still in working order.
Open days offer an outstanding insight into the area’s heritage as well as a magnificent view from the sails over the fields and parish.
The wealth from its days as a centre for clothweaving is still evident in the splendid old buildings. Since Cranbrook was the Capital of the Weald, then it had to have a cathedral.
And it did, and still does. The Parish Church of St Dunstan known as the ‘Cathedral of the Weald’ stands in the corner of the main town holding an enviable position overlooking the Weald countryside.
A huge church, it has “the clock mechanism [which] was the prototype for Big Ben and the organ contains parts originally designed for use at The Crystal Palace.” (from On the Wealden Church Trail leaflet).
More curious facts on Cranbrook’s fascinating history are at the Cranbrook Museum, an historical artefact in itself.
The museum building is a 15th century wooden structured cottage, which is an ancient method of construction in England. Take time to visit this little known attraction and sit in the classically appealing garden.
The internationally renowned Sissinghurst Castle Garden is nearby. This is just one of the National Trust properties in the vicinity defining Cranbrook as an opportune country base for exploring the stately homes and castles and gardens of the area.
Shopping in Cranbrook
Today, Cranbrook has over 60 intriguing individual shops, simply the best for browsing.
Independent gift shops, jewellery, kitchenware, vintage and designer clothing, specialist country clothing shops, furniture and home accessory boutiques appeal to all but the most cynical of visitors.
When refreshment is required the local cafés offer a welcome seat, food and beverages for watching the world go by on the ancient pavements.
Have you always fancied going to an auction? Every month an auction takes place at Bentley’s Fine Art Auctioneers. They deal in furniture and jewellery as well as fine art, a fun experience to be had whilst on vacation!
The farmer’s market is also on once a month under cover so no excuses not to amble into the octagonal Vestry Hall where it is held. Built in 1859 and complete with buttresses, it is a peculiarly interesting sight to see.
What’s On In Cranbrook
You must try to visit when the October Apple Carnival is on.
The streets are closed off to vehicles and lively local festivities showcase local produce and local talent.
The two yearly Literature Festival held at the end of September for two days is a splendid success attracting the likes of Gyles Brandreth, Sarah Raven, Julian Clary, Vanessa Nicolson (Vita Sackville-West’s granddaughter), and children’s writers Brian Moses, Ali Sparkes and Dave McKean.
Look out for all this in the coming year in our Events page.
More live entertainment can be sought out at the Queens Hall Theatre. This company has a refreshing perspective since it is off the mainstream trail.
The George Hotel on the corner of the High Street puts on occasional live music, jazz, folk or rock.
One can dine and stay plus you’ll be in Royal quarters as Elizabeth I deigned to visit in 1573!
If you decide to stay in a hotel in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Cranbrook is a pleasant 40 minutes’ drive or bus ride away.
However, do not dismiss the welcome from the Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Located in idyllic spots for enjoying the tranquility of the countryside, not to mention the tasty breakfasts and advice from your local host, spoil yourself with the comfort of a B&B.
You can find out more details about Cranbrook and the surrounding area by downloading a copy of the leaflets ‘Cranbrook Shopping & Heritage’ and ‘In and Around Cranbook’. Also check out the local website Visit Cranbrook and Sisssinghurst.
Try before you buy, as they say, and take a virtual tour of Cranbrook by clicking on the video below: