Benenden Tourist Guide
This small village is located near to Tenterden and Cranbrook. It has a beautiful Green and many fascinating houses.
The place name of Benenden derives from the Old English meaning Bynna's wooded pasture. Bynning denn became Benindene (1086) Binnigdaenne, Bennedene (c1100) Bynindenne (1253) then the current spelling from 1610.
The first mention of the village is in the Domesday Monachorum of 1070, where the church is recorded as part of the Diocese of Canterbury. Before 1066 the Domesday book records the village as being owned by Osier.
Benenden is a quiet picturesque village with a large green in the Tunbridge Wells District of Kent. The parish is located on the Weald six miles to the west of Tenterden.
The parish church is dedicated to St George, and is a 19th century building on the site of a medieval building destroyed in a fire in the seventeenth century. Inside the church is wide, light and all Perpendicular - mostly due to the nineteenth century architect David Brandon. The reredos is a colourful piece of 19th century design, part of a tiled scheme which covers the whole east wall. There is a very fine range of stained glass, including several figures of St George to whom the church is dedicated.
Benenden School, a private all girls’ school is located to the north of the village. For over 80 years, Benenden has been one of the leading boarding schools in Britain. When in 1923 three mistresses from Wycombe Abbey founded the School, they set high educational standards and also wanted Benenden to be a 'happy school with personal integrity and service to others always in mind, where everyone would be given the chance to follow her own bent'. Benenden School has remained true to that vision ever since. The school now educates around 500 girls aged 11-18, who come from a variety of backgrounds. The School is situated in the Kent countryside in its own beautiful parkland, just over an hour from London and the major airports. In addition to the history of the school, the site on which the school stands is also of historical interest. The Parkland is ancient and the woodland mentioned in the Domesday Book.
In 1573 Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the village as the guest of Sir Thomas Guldeford and his wife Elizabeth at Hemsted, Sir Thomas's home. While staying there she planted a walnut tree which remained standing until 1857.
In 1718 Hemsted was sold to Admiral Sir John Norris. His grandson John Norris came to live there with his wife Kitty Fisher. She is famed in a nursery rhyme as the one who found Lucy Locket's pocket.
Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
But ne'er a penny was there in't
Except the binding round it.
Kitty was a milliner who worked her way round society via various bedchambers. She settled into the role of mistress of Hemsted, and was liked by the local folk, especially as she was generous to the poor. Sadly she died of smallpox only 4 months after her marriage. Her last wish was to be buried in the churchyard dressed in her best ballgown.
In 1860 Hemsted was rebuilt by Gaythorn Hardy who was to be known later as Lord Cranbrook. It was bought in 1912 by Lord Rothermere who made further alterations.
Hemsted is now the home of the famous Benenden School, one of the top private girls schools in the country, which was attended by Princess Ann, the Princess Royal.
In 1905 the Post Office established a Chest Hospital in the village to provide free treatment to members of its staff suffering from tuberculosis. After 1933 the hospital was opened to all Civil Servants, their wives and children. The hospital was enlarged, and as TB declined, so the hospital started to cater for a much wider range of illnesses.
Hemsted Forest Golf Club in Golford Road are keen to entice would-be travelling golfers to its fairways so they have introduced a number of golf day itineraries. The golf club, incidentally, is owned by Executive Sports Limited, experts in the organisation of corporate golf events for over 20 years.
The nearest trains run from Staplehurst about 8 miles to the north providing commuter services to London.
Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015