Once one of the centres of the old Wealden ironworking region, the picturesque village of Horsmonden is now on the Heart of Kent country tour route and boasts a beautiful village green across the road from the sixteenth century Gun and Spitroast Inn.
The village also claims to be the original spot where Fuggles, the most famous of all Kent hop varieties, was found growing in a flower garden in 1861 by Mr George Stace. The plant was introduced to commerce by Mr Richard Fuggles of Brenchley in about 1875. Fuggles became the most widely grown hop in England, and made up 78% of the English hop acreage in 1949, an amount that is now down to about 9%.
Horsmonden’s tie with food and drink continues to this day thanks to the Horsmonden Farmers’ Market, which takes place on the first and third Friday of every month on the Village Green (in the summer) and at the Village Hall (in the winter). The market was launched in May 2006 by three local mothers who wanted to encourage people to shop locally and reduce food miles. Including around 15 stalls, the market stipulates that all produce be grown, sourced and produced within a 30 mile radius of the village.
Foodies will also want to check out the village shop Heath Stores, which has been transformed in recent years into a genuine community meeting place specialising in local, artisan and ethical products. As well as fresh groceries, the store has a deli packed with local cheese and home cooked ham, fresh bread and cakes from East Peckham and local products including honey, apple juice, sausages, cider, wine and beer.