Warning: there is a certain amount of ‘twee’ in this post.
I am not one who harks back to a perfect past, but I do have a fondness for pretty little towns. Tenterden is a pretty little town. This is the Town Hall, with the twelfth century St Mildred’s Church tower behind.
Tenterden was once one of the Cinque Ports, used for trading wool in the thirteenth century. Romney Marshes were subsequently drained, taking the sea much further away (now it’s about a half-hour’s drive to Rye or Camber Sands).
The sea-trading past accounts for Tenterden’s prosperity. And for this handy anchor propped up on the High Street.
I lived in Tenterden for five years, and am very fond of the place. I came here when I was a newly-fledged single mother. I was able to part-buy a two-bedroom house here, thanks to the affordable homes scheme. Otherwise it would have been camping out at my mum and dad’s for the rest of my life, or living in a caravan. When I took my daughters to view the house, my youngest announced that it had ‘a very strong roof’. It did. I was very proud of that house.
This photo is taken from the time we lived in Tenterden. That’s not our road, but my favourite lane in Tenterden. The girls and I had a little fantasy that when they were grown up we would each live in a cottage in Bell’s Lane. We would have secret doors between the cottages, so that we could still have hot chocolate together.
Everywhere I go in Tenterden, there are sweet little memories from our time living there. We’re only half an hour’s drive away now, but it is a car journey, rather than a short walk.
Saturday mornings were swimming lessons at the leisure centre, then a little walk past the allotments and up to Café Rouge for a Latte and Pan au Raisin.
We’d have a little browse in Waterstone’s, which the girls called ‘The Library’. We spent as much time there as the actual library. Book Shop staff are universally lovely and never move you on.
My youngest once threw up in the Lemon Tree Café. We had to give the Lemon Tree a wide berth for several months. Until my daughter lost her teeth and looked different enough for us to return.
The weight of the hanging baskets has caused the Tudor beams of this building to buckle and bend.
They are lovely timbers.
The High Street is a hotchpotch of architectural eras and false fronts. There is a difference in ceiling heights, as if different-sized humans inhabited them. Monsoon (far left) is for particularly small people.
One of the pubs in Tenterden is the William Caxton, named after the person who introduced the printing press to Britain in 1476.
But my favourite pub is The Vine. The first year after I returned from Australia my mum and I did our Christmas shopping on Tenterden High Street in the snow. There were carol singers and Christmas lights and we came in here to sit by the roaring fire. We were snug as a bug in a rug.
Tenterden is hollyhocks. They grow everywhere. I love it when there are a few different colours all mingled together: cherry, burgundy, pink and apricot.
And lavender. Lavender is another Tenterden favourite.
Because it was a market town, the high street is wide, and lined with London Plane trees. They provide lovely shade in the summer.
I like being a little bit nosy and peeping into the gardens of the rows of cottages along the street.
I would love to get my hands on one of these gardens.
Tenterden has its fair share of Antiques shops. And a wool shop. And a chocolate shop. All the essentials.
Railway enthusiasts are catered for. One of the sounds I really miss from my garden in Tenterden is the sound of steam trains chuffing. Yes, really.
One final blast from the past (and future). There is a time-travelling resident of Tenterden. My mum plucked up the courage to ask for an autograph this week. We have two Dr Who nuts in our house. One of them is miffed that her Nana chose Stevie as the recipient of this!
Do you have a favourite pretty little town?