Pictures of Smarden
in the county of Kent
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This enchanting village was established in around the 14th-century at the time when the forests of the Weald of Kent were being cut down to make way for permanent villages. Smarden, is little more than one street, yet it has a host of attractive properties including two large half timbered houses built by prosperous wool merchants during the 17th-century, these are to the north-west of the village.
At the time when the forests were being cleared to make way for sheep, King Edward III chose to grant Smarden a charter to hold a weekly market, his thinking was, that this would encourage the wool trade, and how right he was. Wealthy merchants came to do trade and they settled here and built magnificent homes for themselves and their families. They also donated generously to the church. The charter granted by Edward III was endorsed by Queen Elizabeth I and hangs in the church to this day.
The collective buildings of the village are a mixture of styles from several periods. Some have attractive timber frame gables, while others, more typical of Wealden villages are of white painted brick with weatherboarded superstructure. Some are medieval with strong timber uprights and all are delightfully drawn together by the adornment of rich red tiles to each and every roof. Traditional Wealden houses and cottages were built in vast numbers during the hey-day of the wool trade, when excellent woolen cloth was taken to Faversham to be exported to Europe. The stability and prosperity of this period is shown in the number of large houses of the 15th and 16th-century still to be seen in the village.
The parish church of St.Michael was built early in the life of the village and has remained central to village life. It has a wide nave and a magnificent timber roof, it is known locally as 'The Barn of Kent' it has many ancient reminders of the past and fortunately remains largely unaltered.
A quiet amble through this lovely village rewards the visitor with glimpses into a time when life was unhurried and more simple than the hustle and bustle of today. Smarden is a village of quiet contentment where even a passing motor car seems an intrusion to such an idyllic English scene. Lush pastureland surrounds the village and a short distance away is the NT property of Sissinghurst, other attractions include a Vineyard and the Union Mill. This is without doubt one of the finest villages in the whole of Kent, it is well worth a visit.
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