“In medieval times Cranbrook was a centre for the local cloth industry and also became a market town. Still today, its narrow streets and alleys feature buildings dating back to the 15th century”
Living in Cranbrook
Picturesque Cranbrook combines historical charm with modern day local amenities and a highly-desirable grammar school.
Cranbrook became a centre for the local cloth industry in the Middle Ages and still standing is the one of the most well-preserved smock mills in the UK. In medieval times the town was also granted a charter to hold a market on the high street, and even today, its narrow streets and alleys feature buildings dating back to the 15th century.
Known as the capital of Weald, Cranbrook is characterised by its classic Kentish weather-boarded and oak-framed buildings. In the heart of the town on Stone Street and the High Street there are independent shops and some highly-rated restaurants, including a Michelin-starred restaurant.
However, it’s attractive architecture and local independent shops aren’t the only selling point. The well-regarded Cranbrook School is not only a focal point for residents but a major draw for people looking to move to Cranbrook.
House prices in Cranbrook
A highly-desirable school and handsome historic architecture mean local property doesn’t come cheap, with the average price around £495K. However, buyers will get plenty for their money. Along with the many local amenities previously mentioned, the town has low crime rates and scores an 8 out of 10 on Locality Reality’s Quiet index. Plus, there are a range of places to get outside for a walk, especially along the Crane Brook.
“It’s attractive architecture and local independent shops aren’t the only selling point. The well-regarded Cranbrook School is not only a focal point for residents but a major draw for people looking to move to Cranbrook.”
One mark against Cranbrook, and it’s a big one, is that there is no train station. For commuters to train it in to the capital they need to drive or take a bus to a rail station in one of nearby towns.
Staplehurst railway station is about a 15-minute drive away and has twice hourly Southeastern services to Charing Cross taking roughly an hour. The station also has a service to Ashford clocking in about 20 mins. Alternatively, Tunbridge Wells is about a 30-minute drive away and runs more frequent services into Charing Cross or Cannon Street.
By car Cranbrook is just off the A229, which takes about 15 mins to get to the A21, where it’s about half an hour to the M20, Maidstone and Hastings. Arriva Southern Counties buses run through Cranbrook and operate a service to Maidstone.
Though Cranbrook is a small town, there are a number of shops, local amenities and places to eat out and drink. For shopping, there is a range of independent gift shops, specialist country clothing shops, and homewares and accessories boutiques.
During the day, there are several local cafes and tea rooms. Food for Thought serves healthy breakfast and lunch choices as well as vegan food, while Gastronomia Campo Vecchio is an authentic Italian delicatessen and coffee shop. At night, there is modern British cuisine at The George Hotel, or Michelin-starred gourmet food at The Apicius, a restaurant run by a husband and wife team using local produce. The Three Chimneys and The Bull both at nearby Biddenden are highly-rated country pubs, while in town there’s also the White Horse Inn for a food and drink.
As well as small branches of all major supermarket chains, Norwich boasts an Asda Superstore, Tesco Superstore and a large Waitrose on the outskirts of the city, ideal for those looking to stock up on a family shop. Good independent traders can also be found throughout the city, such as Howard & Son fishmongers, for those who prefer to shop more locally.
Health & Sport
If many of the country walks don’t take your fancy, then The Weald Sports Centre provides a range of fitness options. The sports centre offers swimming, gym and fitness equipment, a range of group exercise classes, and badminton basketball, netball and tennis courts.
For arts and entertainment, though there is the annual Cranbrook Music Festival in September, Tunbridge Wells is a better bet for regular events. The Assembly Hall Theatre, The Trinity Theatre and The Forum combined provide a range of theatre, comedy, music and the fine arts, while the Odeon multiplex shows a range of the new releases.
For history, the landmark of the Union Mill opens regularly for visitors from the end of March to the end of September. Cranbrook Museum captures the history of the town and the Weald of Kent, while only a seven-minute drive is National Trust property Sissinghurst Castle Garden.
“The town is famed for its Ofsted ‘Outstanding’-rated Cranbrook School.”
Schools and Education
The town is famed for its Ofsted ‘Outstanding’-rated Cranbrook School. It’s one of only a few schools to be state-funded and have boarding places. However, the alternative choice High Weald Academy ‘Requires Improvement’.
Elsewhere in the area, ‘Outstanding’-rated primary schools include Goudhurst and Kilndown Church of England, Colliers Green Church of England, while Lamberhurst St Mary’s Church of England, Brenchley & Matfield Church of England and Sissinghurst CofE are all rated ‘Good’.
In the town, there is only a Co-Op, but a five-minute drive away is the delightful Hartley Dyke Farm Shop, which doubles up as a coffee house and an upmarket grocery shop, with locally sourced fruit and veg, plants and flowers. Also, on the fourth Saturday of every month there is a farmer’s market in the Vestry Hall on the High Street.
For further grocery options, a 15-minute drive away to Hawkhurst means the choice of a Waitrose, a Tesco Metro and the Colonnade Greengrocers of Hawkhurst.