Reading Street

Reading Street in Kent Hamlet Guide

This small hamlet quickly throws up a mystery. If it is called Reading Street, then why is the church, as well as the manor house named after Ebony – an even smaller settlement over a mile to the south west?

The answer due to the many riddles that the Romney Marsh is accountable for. Once, Reading Street – as it is now – was very much part of Ebony, and Ebony was a far larger place.

It was home to workers who constructed warships for King Henry VIII at a time when the River Rother used to flow right by here (meaning Ebony itself was an island) and nearby Smallhythe was an important port and shipbuilding centre.

Those vessels, some inspected personally by the King during construction, would have then been towed directly past Reading Street and Ebony to the sea at Rye. With the reclamation of the marshland and the river course changed, Reading Street and Ebony have become two small and distinct places, and Ebony no longer an island. Therefore although the church of St. Mary the Virgin (closed except for services on Sundays) has a sign clearly stating “Ebony Church” it is very much in Reading Street.

The main reason for visiting in the 21st Century will doubtless be Tenterden Garden Center, a family run business spread impressively over a large site which contains a popular restaurant. Kids should be directed towards the aquarium section where they can stare into dozens of eye-level tanks containing colourful and exotic species of fish.

(A mention must go to a second nursery, Pinecove, about a mile north towards Tenterden which should also be a destination for any self-respecting gardener.)

Back in Reading Street a walk south from the garden centre (along the lane that leads off the main B2080) gives you clues as to the marsh’s new agricultural role. Passing worker’s cottages you reach Old Barrack Farm before, a few meters on, the entrance to Chapel Bank Farm where there are views not only out over the flatlands but of Chapel Bank – what was once the island of Ebony. The estranged place the church is named after, and where the King’s ships were towed past on their way to war.

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Phillips & Stubbs

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Attractions and Activities

1066 Country Walk

Enjoy the exhilarating 1066 Country Walk from or to Rye. The whole walk to Pevensey takes four days, allowing time … more

Rye Water Sports

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St Michael's Church

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Accommodation

The Ship Inn

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The Mermaid Inn

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Flackley Ash Hotel, Restaurant & Spa

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Restaurants

Haydens Coffee Shop

Fair trade and organic tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Freshly prepared breakfasts, lunches and cakes served in a warm friendly … more

Flackley Ash Hotel, Restaurant & Spa

Located in the Sussex countryside 4 miles from the historic town of Rye, Flackley Ash is a delightful Grade II … more

The Mermaid Inn

One of England’s oldest and loveliest inns, with Norman cellars dating from 1156, the Mermaid, rebuilt in 1420, offers tradition … more

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