Staplehurst Tourist Guide
Staplehurst, situated south of Maidstone, lies within easy reach of London to the north-west and Dover to the east.
The area is becoming more populated and commercialised because of the Channel Tunnel and its link to London and beyond. The A229 through Staplehurst is the prime route linking Maidstone in the north with the southern seaside town of Hastings. Sections of the surrounding countryside still include hop fields and the oast houses that process the hops.
The village rises above the flat Weald which was once a dense forest. It is built on a layer of limestone, which breaks through the surface at this point on the hill together with fresh springs of water. The name Staplehurst comes from the Saxon words ‘staple’ (meaning post) and ‘hurst’ (meaning wood or clearing in a forest). The village lies on the route of a Roman road, which is now incorporated into the course of the A229. It was the existence of the church, built about 1150, which encouraged people to Staplehurst.
The people of Staplehurst were farmers and foresters until King Edward I invited the Flemings to settle in nearby Cranbrook in 1237 to instruct the English how to process wool. From Cranbrook the cloth industry spread until it influenced most Wealden villages, including Staplehurst. As wealth increased so more solid timber houses of the Staplehurst clothiers and yeomen appeared. The woollen industry declined in the Weald around 1650, and although linen weaving and thread making took its place, such wide prosperity did not return again.
The first census in 1801 recorded the population as 1220. By 1831 it was 1,484, with 50 labourers permanently unemployed, and by 1861 the population had risen to 1,695, in spite of whole families emigrating to America, Australia and New Zealand.
Staplehurst was fortunate to be on the South Eastern Railway's route from London to Dover. The first commuter of note was Henry Hoare the Fleet Street banker, who settled at Iden in the 1840s. He restored the church in 1853. Today Staplehurst railway station is a busy station and is well used by commuters working in London. The station is on the main line from Ashford International railway station to London Charing Cross and London Cannon Street, via Tonbridge. It is also the main station for commuters from Cranbrook, Hawkhurst, Sissinghurst and other nearby villages.
Staplehurst is no longer a village, but a small rural town. It has five churches, a library, a small supermarket, doctors and dentists, shops, traffic lights, public houses and an industrial estate. The parish church, All Saints' Church, is located at the highest point in the village, at the south end, on the A229. It dates from the early part of the last Millennium and the south door has been dated to around 1050 and has some excellent early ironwork on it. The church is surrounded by black and white timber framed houses in the oldest part of the village and it is easily the most picturesque part of Staplehurst. About 1100 All Saints Church was built from local limestone. The north wall is believed to be Saxon. It is not actually mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but at this time the Church probably had a chancel, nave and maybe a low south tower. The old font is still in use and probably dates from around this time. The village also has a United Reformed Church and a Free church.
The Staplehurst Rail Crash was a railway accident which took place on 9 June 1865. It is predominantly remembered for its effects on the novelist Charles Dickens, who was travelling as a passenger in a first class carriage on the boat train returning from France, with his companions Ellen Ternan and her mother.
The track was being renovated at Staplehurst, at a place where the rails ran over a low, cast iron girder bridge. The timing of the train, the Folkestone Boat Express, varied with the tides which determined the coming of ships at the port. The foreman had thought that the train would arrive later than it did, and the final two rails had not been put back in place. The train managed to reach the far side of the bridge by travelling on the timber baulks holding up the rails, but the girders below fractured, and most of the carriages crashed into the small brook under the viaduct. Ten passengers were killed and forty-nine seriously injured.
The Martyrs' Memorial at Cuckold's Corner commemorates the death of those burned during the Marian persecution (Protestant martyrs). Queen Mary set out to overturn the Reformation and led a ruthless persecution of those who refused their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. Alice Potkins, Joan Bradbridge and Alice Benden were killed between 1556 and 1557.
Iden Croft Herbs in Frittenden Road came into being 30 years ago in the dilapidated kitchen gardens of Staplehurst Manor. The original notion was to show how herbs and aromatic plants could be integrated into gardens and borders as well as in a more formal herb garden. Find out more at www.herbs-uk.com.
Brattle Farm Museum in Five Oak Lane is where visitors can see agricultural tractors, machinery, horse- drawn and hand equipment, tools and domestic bygones. There are also vintage cars, oxen and blacksmiths' displays. The museum is open to groups only and they are welcome at any time by appointment. Tel: +44 01580 891222.
Nearby you can also easily get to Cranbrook Museum and Lashenden Air Warfare Museum at Headcorn. You might visit the wonderful Sissinghurst Castle Garden too.
if you fancy a round of golf then try Staplehurst Golf Centre.
Pubs and Restaurants
The Railway Tavern, Station Road Tel: 01580891279
The Lord Raglan Inn, Chart Hill Road Tel: 01622843747
The Kings Head, High Street Tel: 01580891231
The Bell Hotel, High Street Tel: 01580891322
Maloncho Indian Restaurant, 17 The Parade Tel: 01580892642
The Health Centre opened in March 2007 and is situated at the rear of the Public Library with access from Offen’s Drive and from the High Street via the path beside the Public Library. Tel: 01580 891220.
P R Garrod, High St. Tel: 01580 891349
Forge House, High St. Tel: 01580 892509
NatWest, 5 The Parade Tel: 0845-600 2803
Lloyds TSB, Little Loddington House, High St. Tel: 0845 3030109
There is a main line station which connects Dover, Folkestone and Ashford to Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and either London Charing Cross or London Cannon Street.
Arriva Southern Counties Ltd Tel: 0870 608 2 608
Stagecoach Tel: 01227 766151
National Express Tel: 08705 808080
ABA-Crystal Tel: 01580 893464
King Cars Tel: 01580 892841
Staplehurst Cars Tel: 01580 892593
Practical Car & Van Hire Tel: 01580 893121
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