Goudhurst in Kent

Google map showing area surrounding Goudhurst
(Smugglers, Iron and Forests)
Location: 51.113060,0.457947
General Details
The upper high streetBuilt on a hill with sweeping views over the surrounding countryside, Goudhurst in Kent can be found 9 miles east of Royal Tunbridge Wells on the A262.

The village has in the past been known as Goodherst, Goutherst and Goudherst.

The high street is lined with a wealth of old weatherboard and traditional Kentish tile-hung houses.

The Bedgebury estate is one of the oldest in Kent dating from 815AD, lying between Hawkhurst to the east, Flimwell to the south, Kilndown to the west and Goudhurst to the north. William the Conqueror gave the manor to the de Bedgebury family who owned it until 1450 , when the Culpepper family acquired the land.

Queen Elizabeth I knighted Alexander Culpepper in 1573 when she stayed at the estate. In 1309 a weekly market and two annual fairs were established by the wife of Roger de Bedgebury.

In 1341, the Archbishop decreed that the Rector of Goudhurst should recieve an annual tithe including herbs sown in gardens. This led to a dispute as to whether hops are grown in gardens or fields. the vicar wished for a greater tithe, and tried to claim a part of all hop production, he lost the argument.

However the hop fields are known locally as 'Hop Gardens'.

The area had many immigrant Flemish weavers brought into England by King Edward III, much of the wealth of Goudhurst was founded on weaving and hops.

The church houses many memorials to the Culpepper Family. These include painted wooden effigies of the Iron Master Sir Thomas Culpepper and his wife, which were carved and painted in 1537. The family owned an iron foundry at the nearby Manor of Bedgebury , where they cast guns some of which were used in the fleet that fought the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The parish church of St Marys was built mainly in the 15th century. The tower which was built in the early 1300's was struck by lightning in 1637 and caught fire. The fire was so intensive that the bells melted, and the tower had to be rebuilt. Over 50 churches can be seen from the top of the tower, from Romney Marsh to the North Downs.

In 1680 Bedgebury estate was sold, the manor house was demolished, and a new one built which in the 1920's became the famous Bedgebury Girls School .

In 1747, William Stuart, an ex-army corporal, with a hastily recruited militia, took on and defeated the notorious Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers. The gang had terrorised the countryside for miles around Hawkhurst , and hearing of the formation of the militia, they threatened to burn down every house in Goudhurst and kill all the residents. However on Monday 20th April 1747 the villagers fought and defeated the smugglers in a pitched battle.

Bedgebury Forest was acquired in 1924 by the Forestry Commission. The Royal Botanical Gardens ayt Kew created the Pinetum in order to grow rare foreign trees and shrubs which could not survive in the polluted London air. The Bedgebury Pinetum houses the largest collection of conifers in Europe.

During the Second World War in 1940 the church was damaged by two parachute mines, which exploded destroying most of the windows. The church tower was used by the Home Guard as an observation platform.
The upper high streetGoudhurst in Kent has magnificent views to the north, west and south across the high weald.

Many Oast houses can be seen around, showing the importance of the hop growing industry.

The main high street has some beautiful ancient houses, and is the epitomy of a Kentish village of the High Weald. The village duck pond still remains in the centre of the village, and sitting on the benches watching the birds is very restful.
St Marys church (Goudhurst Kent)Goudhurst in Kent has a few small shops, with the main shopping centres being at Royal Tunbridge Wells 9 miles west, and Cranbrook about 6 miles east.

The nearest trains can be caught at Marden about 5 miles north on the main Ashford to London line providing frequent servuices to the Capital.
Goudhurst is shown as the red symbol on the map.

Nearby Villages

(click on symbol to see the village page)
Village= Town= Recorded in Domesday=
Benenden (One of Englands Top Girls Schools)
6.30 miles
Brenchley (A beautiful Kent village)3.63 miles
Cranbrook (Christmas Cards and Union Mill)3.68 miles
Frittenden (The Search for the Treacle Mines)6.23 miles
Horsmonden (The largest Wealden Iron Works)2.18 miles
Kilndown (Charcoal for the Furnace)2.01 miles
Lamberhurst (Scotney Castle and Gardens)3.02 miles
Matfield (Largest Village Green in Kent)4.66 miles
Pembury (The ghost of Hawkwell)6.12 miles
Sissinghurst (The magnificent garden of Vita Sackville-West)4.47 miles
Staplehurst (Charles Dickens train crash)5.39 miles
Wadhurst (Last bare fisted Prize-Fight in England)6.33 miles
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Local Businesses
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Roman, Saxon and Norman History of the South East
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