Sometimes called the Capital of the Kentish Weald, Cranbrook looks and feels much as it has done for centuries: a peaceful small town of weatherboarded houses, surrounded by orchards and farmland.
In spite of its small size, Cranbrook has a great deal to offer the visitor. The narrow medieval streets are lined with pretty old houses, every one different from its neighbour. There is a wide range of interesting shops, no less than six churches, several hotels, pubs and restaurants, an excellent town museum.
Described as the finest mill in the land, the fine smock windmill, the second tallest in the country, was built by James Humphrey on the hill north of the town in 1814. A smock mill is one where only the top part of the building (the cap) rotates to catch the wind. Today it is still working and visitors can climb up to the platform at the top and gain wonderful views of the town and surrounding countryside.
Bakersbarn is an ideal base for exploring the area. You can take a trip on the beautifully restored steam trains on the Tenterden to Bodiam line, visit Bodiam Castle or Rolvenden’s Historic Vehicles Collection, try the wines at Biddenden or Tenterden vineyards, or walk among the pine trees of Bedgebury Pinetum, England’s national collection of conifers. Thespians will love Smallhythe Place, the former home of Edwardian actress Ellen Terry. Music lovers will enjoy the jazz evenings in Cranbrook, and Finchcocks Museum of Music near Goudhurst, which includes live performances on its amazing collection of instruments.
St. Dunstan’s stands out as an unusually large church and is called ‘the Cathedral of the Weald’. It owes its size to the wealth of the area from 1300 to 1500 generated through the growth of a prosperous cloth industry.