Lying on the route of a Roman road, the large village of Staplehurst, situated south of Maidstone, became a destination for invalids in the early nineteenth century seeking fresh air to recuperate from illness. The village is also known for its nearby vineyards Hush Heath, which produces one of England’s best pink fizzes, and Biddenden, which is Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard and grows 11 different grape varieties as well as producing cider and juices made from its apples and pears.
Freshly produced food, meanwhile, can be found at the local Staplehurst Nurseries and Frankie’s Farmshop where fresh, home-cooked, regionally sourced food and drink is key to the business’ ethos. Breads, cheeses and chutneys nestle alongside jams, sauces, ice cream, fruit and veg, while the café is open for light bites, soups, sandwiches and hot dishes.
The village of Staplehurst’s hilltop twelfth century church, All Saints, is a Grade 1 listed building and features some of the oldest ironwork in England and is proof of the wealth the weaving industry brought to the area. On a more grisly note, a granite memorial to the Marian Martyrs at Cuckold’s Corner marks the point where three local women were burnt at the stake in the 1500s during Queen “Bloody” Mary’s regime for being Protestants.
Staplehurst is also known for a rail crash in 1865 whose passengers included Charles Dickens who narrowly missed death and was reportedly affected by the accident for the rest of his life.