The centre of Bethersden, and the very area that you’ll want to visit, is extremely easy to miss.
Most will arrive at the village on the A28 either from Ashford or Tenterden directions but this route simply skirts the village, keeping the heart of the place a secret.
However, turning off the main road into either School Lane or The Street will lead you to the historic hub and naturally its seclusion is a huge benefit: There’s very little through traffic compared to most villages which aids the illusion of a very pleasing trip back in time.
Here you will find exceptionally handsome and immaculately maintained seventeenth century homes, the post office and village store, as well as a hairdressers and well regarded beauty salon.
Being that The Street is the oldest part of the village it is no surprise to find the church here. St Margarets plays an active roll in the community and is worth visiting for the spectacular ceiling, first rate stonework and general feeling of medieval mystery.
You’ll have to leave the old centre and head back out onto the A28 to come across one of the village’s most revered locations. Stephenson Brothers Rocking Horses can make claim to being the manufacturers of the world’s best children rocking horses and a look though their front windows offers a tantalising glimpse of the woods and materials that go into making their masterpieces.
In business since the early 1980s, Stephenson Brothers are renowned for their craftsmanship and approaching the building the rocking horse on the roof as well as the personalised weathervane are indicators that this is a very individualistic company indeed. The building is open to customers but tours of the workshops are special events – well worth putting in your diary when they are announced.
Another family run business worth a visit is the nearby Ripley’s Garden Centre which has the unmistakable air of an independent venture about it compared with the larger garden chains and also contains a popular wood burner heated cafe.
Close to Ripley’s is the Pig and Sty pub which is architecturally fascinating – large open spaces very tastefully decorated – and boasts an enormous covered beer garden for dining outside come rain or shine.
The welcoming Bull Inn is also an ideal destination for food and provides the village with a central pub as the wait for the reopening of the George goes on.
Cricket has traditionally been an important part of Bethersden life and home fixtures are played almost weekly between late April and September. Always on Sundays and always at 1pm.
We note with a smile that their fixture list booklet for this season contains a message of support from Stephenson Brothers wishing the team a “rocking good season”.
Records the career of Holman Fred Stephens, light railway promoter, engineer and manager, his family, his railways and his successors
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