Tilting at Windmills

Let me introduce you to one of the prettiest towns in the Kent High Weald, only three miles from the famous Sissinghurst Gardens created by Vita Sackville-West. You may enjoy the many types of weather-boarding and architecture, independent shops, the narrow medieval streets and some interesting buildings all within an easy walk of each other including a beautiful church and a smock windmill. It is the picture of a small English town and on a warm summer’s day with church bells chiming and white sails shimmering, let’s go for a stroll around Cranbrook.

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Cranbrook means ‘brook frequented by cranes or herons’. The name is first recorded as Cranebroca in the Domesday Monachorum of 1070, but as the name of a stream, not a settlement.

Leave the car in one of the free car parks and head down the High Street to the Vestry Hall built in 1859 as Cranbrook’s court-house with the Old Fire Station below. Now the Weald Information Centre.

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Head up the steps on the left to St Dunstan’s Church. Outside on the tower is a carved figure of Father Time. Local legend says that he comes down every night and scythes the churchyard grass to keep it neat and tidy.

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Opposite the church is Church House, formerly Dence’s School, which was built in 1567 by Alexander Dence. It was used as an elementary school for 300 years.

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Carry on around the church and through the churchyard which leads into another small car-park and back into the town.

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Stop to look at the decorative bricks of the White Horse public house on the corner.

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Straight on down Stone Street you will catch glimpses of the windmill ahead of you.

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and lots of lovely shops…

On the right hand side several narrow passageways lead off Stone Street.  One passage passes Hatter’s cottage, which was William Tooth’s water-powered hat factory.

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Pop around the corner to see Cranbrook School. John Blubery (d 1518) bequeathed funds for “a frescole howse for all the poor children of the towne”. The school received a charter from Queen Elizabeth I in 1574. It is now a co-educational grammar boarding and day school and still State-funded.

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Retrace your steps and turn left onto St David’s Bridge where you will find a delightful Arts and Crafts House which used to be a restaurant. Originally a temperance coffee house with reading room the Old Coffee Tavern was built in 1890 by Clement Cramp (1816-1894) for working men.

Opposite is a row of white weatherboarded houses and The Chapel of Strict and Particular Baptists. Built in 1785, this is the oldest existing place of worship for Dissenters in the Parish.

Continuing up Hill Road with Hill House on the right. Dating from the late middle ages, when the town was the centre of a thriving woollen industry, Hill House is a medieval clothier’s house. Note its lovely door.

We have now arrived at Cranbrook’s windmill which is the tallest surviving smock mill in the British Isles. Built in 1814 it dominates the town. It is still in working order, grinding wheat regularly to produce wholemeal flour which can be purchased from the mill shop. The Windmill is usually open Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday afternoons in the summer. Note: not on a Monday.

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Stepping into Cranbrook is like stepping back in time.

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If you enjoy a walk, short or long, then you may enjoy visiting Jo’s Monday Walk where you are in for a treat.

One Day One World Project: 23:00 – Midnight

It’s been an odd week as we have been away in Kent for part of it, staying in a lovely farmhouse in the Weald of Kent where I could have taken photos of a pretty pink dawn sky or a valley full of mist – but neither at the right time for this week’s post.

The area we stayed in was completely dark at night – no street lights, no security lights – just the moon and stars. And nothing really to take a photo of outside (as you couldn’t see anything) so… what to post?

What struck me before the midnight hour on a couple of nights was the noise of sheep in the fields next-door to the farmhouse. Their bleating was so loud I wondered what was causing the distress. A fox? A badger? Talking to our hostess she explained that it could have been either, or the fact that they’d moved fields, or just been shorn, or lost a lamb or… well you get the idea, sheep are apparently very nervous creatures and the slightest change to their routine upsets them and they become very, very vocal!

I can’t say they kept me awake for long though. And I hope you like the photos of the sheep in daylight! A black rectangle would not have been very interesting 🙂

Sheep at the end of the garden

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Lisa of the blog NorthWest Frame of Mind has decided to run a different project over the next 24 weeks. To try to show what is happening in different parts of the world (if you all join in) at a particular time of day. If you would like to participate you have until next Saturday midnight to post a photo or write about what is happening in your part of the world.   This week is between 23:00 – 24:00.  I hope you’ll join in! See links for more details.

A Word a Week Challenge: Atmospheric

Every week Sue from ‘A Word in Your Ear’ dips into her English Oxford dictionary and picks a word on the page that it falls open at. The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe what that word means to you.

Decaying Shed
Decaying Shed

On the way home from a trip to Kent a couple of years ago we decided to go via Dungeness headland which is one of the largest expanses of shingle in the Europe, and is classified as Britain’s only desert by the Met office.

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boardwalk

It’s an odd place, a flat landscape with a few unusual houses and abandoned boats and gardens with random items washed-up from the sea used to create some kind of weird sculpture.

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boat

Add to this a huge nuclear power station and a tiny steam railway with steam puffing into the air  and you get the impression that there is a very unusual atmosphere in this vast desolate landscape.

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Full Steam Ahead