The picturesque ‘capital’ of the Weald has a lot to offer, but what are its highlights? Here are five places to discover.
St Dunstan’s Church
This stunning church, known locally as ‘the cathederal of the Weald’, is almost 1,000 years old, although it was between 1480 to 1550 that it was transformed into the building we see today. Inside, below the bell chamber you’ll find the Royal Coat of Arms, donated by Thomas Basden in 1756, and on a brass plaque you can read the roll-call of those lost in the 1914-18 war. It’s also possible to have a tour of the church and learn more about its history.
The Union Windmill
Standing at the highest point overlooking Cranbrook and maintained in working order, this grade I listed building is the tallest surviving smock mill in the British Isles. Built in 1814, the mill celebrated its bi-centenary last year with the unveiling of a plaque showing the last owner John Russell, who bequeathed it to Kent County Council for a nominal sum. The mill is open to the public throughout the summer months and is run by the Cranbrook Windmill Association who volunteer to look after its upkeep.
Now a space used for events and celebrations, Vestry Hall was built in 1859, replacing the George Inn as Cranbrook’s courthouse. Below was the old fire station. As well as holding Parish Council meetings, the building also houses the Cranbrook farmers market from 9am to 12pm on the fourth Saturday of each month.
Laid over three floors in this grade II building are hundreds of exhibits and artefacts relating to Cranbrook’s rich history. Discover more about local trades, the church, buildings and much more. There’s also a great deal of information on the Cranbrook Colony – a group of artists who settled in Cranbrook from 1854 onwards, and painted scenes of everyday life. Throughout the year, various exhibitions are held, focusing on different elements of the local area and its history.
Webster House is named after the artist Thomas Webster who was part of the 19th century Cranbrook Colony, living and painting in Cranbrook. Now a privately owned home, so not open to the public, it is still a place to look out for when in the town. You’ll find it situated on the picturesque High Street.