From beach getaways to coastal walking tours, spring heralds the return of day trip season. And while we may all have slightly different ideas of what constitutes an ideal day out from London, few would turn their backs on a pretty historic village just 40 minutes away.
Well, if you’re looking for a place that’s both stunningly beautiful and easy to get to, then the charming village of Chiddingstone is the perfect place for you. Set in the beautiful green countryside of Kent, this picturesque and incredibly well-preserved medieval settlement is considered one of the oldest and finest in the county.
In fact, it is so old that almost everything – with the exception of the school, the castle and the church of Sainte-Marie-la-Vierge – belongs to the National Trust. However, a look at Chiddingstone’s narrow, cobbled streets and beautiful half-timbered Tudor buildings such as the current General Store and Post Office will explain why it has been protected by the Heritage Conservation Trust since 1939. And also why it is regularly listed among the most scenic and Instagrammable spots in the region.
READ MORE: Stunning medieval village less than 2 hours from London with 10 farm shops including Farmers Market, named best in UK for 2022
The picture-perfect streets of Chiddingstone will be of interest to history buffs as well as those looking for beautiful Instagram backgrounds. More than 70% of the buildings in the village are at least 200 years old, some having been built at the beginning of the 16th century. The colony was also listed in the Domesday Book.
Folklore fans won’t be left out either. Leave the main street of Chiddingstone down a small lane and you will find the Chiding Stone, an extraordinary rock formation which is considered by some to be the inspiration behind the name of the ancient settlement.
There are competing theories about the ancient life of the rock outcrop, including that it was a Druidic altar or an Anglo-Saxon boundary marker. The more popular theory, however, is that it was used as a stone of punishment where witches and other wrongdoers – including harassing wives – were sent to be reprimanded.
Film and TV fanatics may also recognize the postcard-worthy village of Chiddingstone as a filming location. It is featured in A Room With A View, The Wind in The Willows, The Larkins and Elizabeth R – as well as the auction series Flog It!
The latter was filmed at the village’s magnificent resident castle, Chiddingstone Castle. This beautiful historic building has extensive, manicured grounds that are open every day of the year, as well as fascinating collections inside and parking that costs just £3. An on-site tea room is open from Sunday to Wednesday.
While in Chiddingstone you’ll probably want to refuel with a hearty meal and a drink or two – and an old pub The Castle Inn is just the place to do it. Like much of the beautiful Tudor village, this charming Grade II* listed inn dates back to the 15th century and is owned by the National Trust.
Expect hearty pub classics, tasty local ales and friendly service at this characterful restaurant, located in the heart of the settlement. Vegans are also welcomed, and there is a sheltered garden as well as a historic and cozy interior.
Fans of a complete stay with friends or family will be delighted to know that you can stay in some of the old buildings of the village. Hoath House or Tudor wing in particular would create particularly special locations for milestone celebrations.
Both are available to book through Booking.com and contain seven bedrooms as well as spacious common areas and gardens. The latter also has a tennis court and a swimming pool.
Couples will also love the charm Cottage B&B in the nearby town of Hever. It has three self-contained rooms called The Log Shed, The Tool Shed and The Potting Shed, which has its own private patio garden, and guests receive a continental breakfast delivered fresh in a basket each morning. Find out more or book on Booking.com .
How to get there
Beautiful Chiddingstone is easily accessible by train and car from London. The train is the fastest route, with london trains able to get you to nearby Hildenborough in just 32 minutes.
From Hildenborough station it’s a 13 minute drive to Chiddingstone itself – more info and to book your ticket at Railway line. Driving the whole way, meanwhile, takes about an hour and 27 minutes.
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