Boughton Monchelsea – The Best of Town and Country Living

The very name Boughton Monchelsea evokes an image of a classic English village.

And that’s exactly what it is.

Propped on a ragstone ridge between the North Downs and the Weald of Kent, it has its own village green, a 12th century church, a 16th century pub – The Cock Inn – and a post office.

With an abundance of open space and rolling hills, Boughton Monchelsea offers an escape to the country, but with the benefit of having Maidstone’s popular shops, restaurants and leisure facilities just a few miles away.

There is a lot more to Boughton Monchelsea than quintessential country living. The village and its surrounding areas have a lot to offer.

Eating and drinking

Boughton Monchelsea pubs include The Cock Inn, which dates back to 1568. Listed in the Good Beer Guide 2016, The Cock Inn is a typical old English pub featuring exposed beams and cosy inglenook fireplaces. It is a regular stop-off for walkers, and offers fabulous country cooking as well as a wide selection of fine ales and world wines. It even featured in the classic 1949 film Kind Hearts and Coronets, starring Sir Alec Guinness and Dennis Price.

The Curious Eatery, at The Albion Inn in Boughton Monchelsea, describes itself as a “quirky, fun, foody eatery providing tasty and colourful food”. Run by two sisters who trained at the most acclaimed cookery school in South Africa, and supported by chef Ollie who was Junior Sous Chef at Tom Kerridge’s restaurant ‘The Hand and Flowers’, this restaurant offers an exciting menu. They’ve even got ‘winter globes’ in the restaurant garden allowing you to enjoy your evening meal outside under the stars.

The Bull Inn in the nearby village of Linton, is equally steeped in history. Dating back to 1674, its low beamed and cosy interior provide an old-world ambience. The pub offers a wide range of drinks and a delicious menu.

The Tickled Trout in nearby West Farleigh, is a stylish modern pub serving delicious food and offering Hush Heath wines and ciders. Outside there is a deck terrace for al fresco dining, a large landscaped garden and a children’s play area.

Castle View Restaurant at Leeds Castle offers stunning views across its terrace to the castle. The views are even more spectacular by night when the castle is lit up. The oak-beamed restaurant offers delicious meals made with the finest local and seasonal ingredients, and served in a relaxed atmosphere.

Maidstone also offers lots of popular chain restaurants as well as a number of independent restaurants including La Taberna Spanish Tapas Restaurant and La Villetta Italian Restaurant.

History

Boughton Monchelsea lies on a ragstone ridge between the North Downs and the Weald of Kent. It was famed for its Kent ragstone, which was quarried in the village from Roman times up to the 1930s. As such it has commonly been named Quarry Hills.

Stone used for the building of Westminster Abbey, the present-day Houses of Parliament, and the repair of Rochester Castle came from here.

There are many historic buildings in and around the village including St Peter’s Church, which was built around 1100, and the Elizabethan stone-built former manor house, Boughton Monchelsea Place, which was built in the 16th-century.

Schools

There are a number of primary and secondary schools in and around the village.

The beautiful Boughton Monchelsea Primary School is over 160 years old, and built of Kent ragstone which was quarried in the village.

There are a number of primary and secondary schools in and around the village.

The beautiful Boughton Monchelsea Primary School is over 160 years old, and built of Kent ragstone which was quarried in the village.

Other nearby primary schools include Tree Tops Primary Academy, as well as Tiger Primary School, which is just under a mile to the north of the village. Also close by are Molehill Primary Academy, East Farleigh Primary and Senacre Wood Primary. The Holy Family Primary is a local Catholic primary school.

Secondary schools include New Line Learning Academy and Cornwallis Academy.

The closest grammar schools are Maidstone Grammar School, Invicta Grammar School and Oakwood Park Grammar School.

Independent schools include OneSchool Global in Maidstone, and the prestigious Sutton Valence School which was founded in 1576.

Transport & connections

Boughton Monchelsea’s proximity to main roads and railway stations means that it is well connected to larger towns and cities.

It is close to the M20, giving easy access to the channel ports, while London is a little over an hour away by car.

For train services, Maidstone’s stations have direct services to London Victoria in just over an hour, and for international travel, Ebbsfleet and the Eurostar at Ashford International are just over 20 miles away. Gatwick Airport can be reached in just over an hour.

Staplehurst, Marden and East Farleigh are the closest stations with commuter services to London. Staplehurst to London Charing Cross in just over an hour; Marden to Charing Cross in an hour; East Farleigh to London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street or London St Pancras International via Paddock Wood in 1 hour 15.

Things to do, places to see!

Described by historian, Lord Conway, as “the loveliest castle in the world”, Leeds Castle is only a short distance away. The romantic castle is surrounded by 500 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens. There is so much to do here, with two spectacular kids adventure playgrounds, birds of prey, adventure golf, and Segway tours. And don’t miss its famous maze, created from 2,400 yew trees.

Visit historic Mote Park with its beautiful walks, woodland rivers and lake. There is so much to do including children’s play areas, Dino golf, Sky Trail, a climbing wall, segways, angling, and a watersports centre and leisure centre. There are even model railways and model boats. You can also visit Mote House, with its walled garden and small waterfall.

Stoneacre National Trust House is a medieval yeoman’s house and garden. Built in the 15th century, this half-timbered house, featuring a great hall and surrounded by glorious garden, orchard and meadows, is a perfect example of a Wealden Hall-House. Inside you can view its beautiful collections of furniture, wood and metal work.

You can also enjoy wonderful woodland walks over the Otham Valley from here.

Kent Life – Heritage Farm Park is just a short drive away and offers a great family day out.  Full of history, it is still a working farm, and you can get up close with the animals. There is an outdoor playground, and lots of other fun activities to get involved in.

For arts and events, there are a number of venues in Maidstone offering music, comedy, theatre and art, including the Hazlitt Theatre and Maidstone Leisure Centre.

The Outdoor Life

With so much beautiful countryside all around, there is no shortage of stunning walking routes to enjoy in the area.

One such walk is The Greensand Way, a circular walk from Linton via Boughton Monchelsea. This popular walk can be configured so you end it by rewarding yourself with a visit to The Bull Inn!

Take a stroll along the River Medway. There are a number of walking trails that include sections along its meandering banks.

If you are a keen angler, Monk Lakes is just a short drive away in Marden, and offers 7 lakes set in a picturesque country setting.

The Ridge Golf Club is only 3.8 miles away, and enjoys outstanding views across the Weald of Kent.


10 Reasons to move to Westerham

The small scenic town of Westerham is known as ‘the gateway to the Garden of England’.

It’s one of the most sought-after places to live in Kent, and it’s not hard to see why.

Don’t let the chocolate box façade fool you. With its attractive boutique shops and cafes centred around the pretty green, it’s no sleepy town. There’s so much to do in Westerham that you’ll never tire of living here!

In fact, there’s a huge trend in returning residents. People who move away to go to university, and then live in London, tend to come back to live here with their own families. Such is the draw.

It’s the perfect balance of country living and a contemporary lifestyle, with trendy shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.

If you’re not yet persuaded, check out our top 10 reasons to live in Westerham:

1. Eating out - Westerham restaurants and cafes

There is no shortage of fabulous places to eat in Westerham. Restaurants include Rendezvous Brasserie, Napoli E, Chow’s, and Tulsi. You must also try The Old Bank, in the converted old Natwest building “offering contemporary, seasonal British cuisine, influenced by French techniques, using the best quality ingredients locally available”.

Among the latest additions to the Westerham eating scene are The Tap Room at Westerham Brewery, with their delicious street food and beer, including Mr Pintxos Spanish Tapas, Pizza Federicci’s Romano Pizza, Meat the Chef selling buttermilk chicken & hot dogs and Moules & Bread Shed selling their Italian street food.

The Bottle Store Restaurant at Squerryes Winery serves seasonal dishes with select cuts of prime meat, locally grown vegetables and seafood. The restaurant’s talented chef, Alexander Baillieu, learned his skills under the Roux brothers!

Westerham has a vibrant café culture with a mixture of traditional tearooms, and modern coffee shops. Try the Tudor Rose Tearoom, Food For Thought, The Courtyard and Deli di Luca for lunch or an afternoon treat.

Award winning Flint & Oak is a new farm shop and deli with a café bar, housed in a converted milking parlour. They source the most delicious food and drink from the best local producers and farmers.

2. Enjoying a drink

Westerham also boasts several historic pubs. These include The King’s Arms, and The Grasshopper on The Green, which was frequented by Winston Churchill when he was a local, and has stood for more than 700 years in the heart of Westerham. The pub was built by Stonemasons so they had somewhere to live while building St Mary’s Church.

Wine bar No 17 in Market Square is the perfect place to enjoy a fine wine or a cheeky cocktail.

Visit Squerryes Winery and sample their award-winning sparkling wines. The 300 year-old working estate is at the heart of the modern English winemaking business. Located at the foot of the North Downs, it has been discovered that the chalk escarpment has similar qualities to the esteemed “Cote des Blancs” region of Champagne.

The Westerham Brewery has brought brewing back to Westerham after the historic Black Eagle Brewery closed more than 50 years ago.
By re-culturing freeze-dried samples of yeast from the Black Eagle brewery, and using local water from the same aquifer, the new brewers have tried to recreate some of the flavours that made Westerham’s historic ales so famous.

Loved by locals and visitors alike, the brewery’s Tap Room, with its delicious street food, brings an urban vibe to this country town. Enjoy a local craft beer or two on the buzzing terrace and grab something delicious to eat.

3. Westerham Shopping

When it comes to shopping, Westerham has everything you need. It has a wide range of boutique clothing shops, gift shops, furniture and antique shops, as well as a post office and pharmacy.

Take a leisurely stroll along the high street and pop in to Entre Nous or Kate’s Collection for stylish womenswear, The Vintage Home Company for furniture and accessories gathered from around the world. And who could resist some treats from Chocs on the Green!

And if you are wanting more, Sevenoaks, which has a wider range of shops, is only 15 minutes away by car.

4. History

Westerham boasts two famous former residents, both immortalised with statues on its green.

It’s hard to miss the fact that Westerham was home to Winston Churchill for much of his life. He bought nearby Chartwell in 1922, and it remained the family home until his death in 1965. It is now looked after by the National Trust.

Churchill loved Westerham and adored his home at Chartwell with its beautiful views over the Weald of Kent. He once said that “a day away from the house was a day wasted”.

General James Wolfe was born in the vicarage in Westerham in 1727. Famed for his victory over the French at the Battle of Quebec in 1759, he is regarded as Britain’s most celebrated military hero of the 18th century. His former Westerham home, now Quebec House, is also run by the National Trust.

The town was originally famous for its brewing industry, which provided the main source of local employment for centuries. The welcome return of Westerham Brewery has brought brewing back to the town.

Another of the area’s historic buildings is St Mary’s Church, situated in the corner of the green. Parts of the present church date from the 14th century, but a board inside the church lists the names of every vicar since 1278. The church register records the baptism of General Wolfe, as well as three of Churchill’s grandchildren.

5. National Trust

Chartwell, Churchill’s family home, is a beautiful red-brick country mansion with stunning views over the Weald. Inside, it remains furnished as it would have been during the 1930s when the Churchills were living there. It includes Winston’s art studio where he used to paint.

Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful grounds, formal gardens and woodland walks.

Quebec House, built in the 1500s, has a varied past, but is most famously home to General James Wolfe and his family. There you will get an insight into Georgian life, as it has been dressed as it would have been when Wolfe lived there. It also includes an exhibition telling the story of the epic battle which made him famous.

Other nearby National trust properties include Emmetts Gardens, Ightham Mote and Knole Park.

6. Walking and leisure

The countryside around Westerham makes it a popular area for both walkers and cyclists, and the town has an active ramblers group.

Chartwell provides some excellent walks, and visitors can enjoy a trail to another fabulous National Trust property, Emmetts Garden. The walk takes you via the woodland at Toys Hill, with its diverse and abundant wildlife.

Westerham hosts a weekly parkrun on Saturday mornings, on part of the Squerryes Estate at Westerham Winery.

If you are a keen golfer, a round at Westerham Golf Club, which is set against a stunning North Downs backdrop, is a must. You could also try Limpsfield Chart, one of the oldest golf clubs in southern England, or Park Wood at Tatsfield.

7. Schools

Westerham has a number of local primary schools. Churchill CofE in Rysted Lane, Limpsfield CofE Infant School in Oxted, Crockham Hill CofE in the village of the same name, Amherst in Witches Lane in Sevenoaks and Lady Boswell’s CofE, also in Sevenoaks.

Co-ed prep schools in the area include Hazelwood in Oxted and St Michael’s and Russell House in Otford. Slightly further afield, both Sevenoaks Prep and Radnor House in Sevenoaks are popular independent co-ed schools. New Beacon Boys Prep school is also located in Sevenoaks.

Sevenoaks School, co-ed ages 11 to 18, is one of the oldest and most respected schools in the country, receiving the award for Sunday Times Independent Secondary School of the Year in 2008 and 2018.

8. Travel links

Westerham is close to the M25 giving you easy access to London and the airports. Commuters can travel to London from Sevenoaks (trains to Charing Cross and Cannon Street in just over half an hour); or Oxted (trains to Victoria and London Bridge between 28 and 40 minutes).

9. Arts and events

Westerham residents come together for a number of events throughout the year. Westerham Rocks music festival takes place at the King’s Arms hotel in the summer, and Westerham Country Fayre and Flower Show is held on The Green every September. The Westerham Fireworks Spectacular and the Christmas light switch-on are popular with families.

Although there isn’t a multiplex in the town, Westerham does boast its own Fleapit Cinema Club at the Westerham Hall. With a 24′ screen (larger than many multiplexes), modern projection equipment, a licensed bar and fabulous ice creams, it describes itself as ‘the home for everyone who enjoys watching great films in good company’.

You can watch the latest blockbusters from the comfort of an armchair at nearby Oxted’s Everyman cinema, or visit the Sevenoaks Stag Theatre for the best comedy, music, theatre and films.

10. Country life

Westerham lies on the river Darent, and the A25 connects it to a long chain of picturesque villages, including nearby Brasted and Oxted. It is situated at the foot of the North Downs with the rolling Kent and Surrey countryside to the South.


Hollingbourne Developer Awarded Seal of Excellence Award

Senior Project Manager Simon Bettridge (35) of Fernham Homes has been chosen to receive the coveted Pride in the Job Seal of Excellence Award, following on from his earlier Quality Awards win this summer, by the National House Building Council (NHBC). Simon has been acknowledged for his work at the Tonbridge-based housebuilder’s Ellesmere development in Hollingbourne.

The Pride in the Job Quality Awards only recognises sites which are run to the highest possible standards and are consistently delivering new homes of outstanding quality. Of those selected by the judges, only the very best will go on to receive a Seal of Excellence Award. This shows the commitment of Simon, as well as AB Canham (Fernham Homes’ sister company) who are the builders of these award-winning homes, to excellence in construction and making customer satisfaction a top priority.

Simon, who lives locally in Chatham, comments:

“It is an honour to be recognised for the work that we put in to make sure the homes at Ellesmere are of excellent quality. I’d like to thank the whole team that work tirelessly, we are very proud of the homes we deliver.”

This year, there were around 11,000 applicants and just 450 individuals were selected to receive Pride in the Job Quality Awards of which two came from AB Canham, demonstrating the housebuilder’s dedication to providing high-quality homes to local communities. Of these 450, just 14 Site Managers from the South East were awarded a Seal of Excellence.

Paul Rosbrook, Operations Director for Fernham Homes, added:

“For Simon to have not only won a Quality Award, but to go on to be selected for a Seal of Excellence Award is a real achievement, and shows just how hard our construction teams work to produce the very best homes for our customers. We are extremely proud and would like to congratulate Simon and his team at Ellesmere for their hard work.”

Founded in 1997 by Ian Fern and Michael Canham and later joined by David Masters, the company has been building homes throughout Kent for over 20 years. Fernham Homes is now marketing a range of distinctive developments in locations including Boughton Monchelsea, Hollingbourne, Greenhithe and Westerham, and has also recently launched an innovative bespoke homes scheme in Linton Hill, near Maidstone. The housebuilder hopes to achieve its ambitious growth plans and bring new sites into the business, across its Kent heartland, as well as in East Sussex and Greater London. This month, Fernham has also exchanged on a new site which will offer 45 new homes, including 18 affordable homes, in the village of Matfield, near Royal Tunbridge Wells.