The pretty colonnaded shops in Hawkhurst - photo by David Hodgkinson The pretty colonnaded shops in Hawkhurst - photo by David Hodgkinson Hawkhurst - photo by David Hodgkinson Hawkhurst - photo by David Hodgkinson

This historic and infamous village is situated within the Kentish High Weald near the border of East Sussex.

Hawkhurst is really two villages in one – the tranquil settlement in the oldest part known as The Moor, and a pretty shopping area complete with hanging baskets and a covered walkway at Highgate.

Only a few miles south of Cranbook, Hawkhurst lays within a landscape of ridges and gentle valleys between the North and South Downs.

There are three conservation areas within Hawkhurst and, where previously surrounded by hop gardens, it is now enfolded by rolling farmland – a joy to tour either by bicycle, motorbike or car.

The Smugglers of Hawkhurst

The name of Hawkhurst was once notorious throughout southern England as the home of the Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers active in the early 1700s.

Hawkhurst is part of the exciting Smugglers Trail [pdf] which runs between Goudhurst and the Sussex Coast.

As Kipling, who lived nearby at Bateman’s, put it:

     If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,

     Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,

     Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.

     Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.

Hawkhurst has other claims to fame: Charles Gunther, inventor of the Oxo cube, and the astronomer Sir John Herschel, both lived for many years in the village.

Events are often held in the village based on legends and local history – keep an eye on the What’s On page.

Things to do in Hawkhurst

Today Hawkhurst is proud to have the first digital cinema in the UK, Kino, where you can relax with a drink and watch a film in the historic Victoria Hall.

Tea, coffee, cakes and other local delights are also served in the café-bar, with a veranda no less!

The quaint shopping area is housed in a colonnaded parade creating a pretty olde worlde feel, not surprising given it is almost 200 years old!

Housing gift, furniture, and craft shops; plenty of classy English country pubs with gardens, food and rooms as well as one of the coolest barbers around, Hawkhurst is an eclectic wonder to wander around.

The Moor is a large triangular green surrounded by the 13th century St Laurence church, historic houses and cottages, and the road to Bodiam Castle and Hastings.

You may be tempted to stop, have a picnic and soak up the bygone villagey feel.

Nearby is Hawkhurst Fish Farm and Waterside Café, a 16th century inn complete with low beamed doorways and log fires, Slap ‘n’ Dash ceramics (DIY creativity) and Pashley Manor Gardens.

With a range of accommodation, your visit to Hawkhurst in Wealden Kent can suit the freedom lover in you.