What’s going for it? Rudyard Kipling came to the eastern High Weald to escape. It’s that kind of place. He was, at the time, perhaps the most famous author in Britain. So famous, in fact, that after publication of The Jungle Book, coach parties would come daily to gawp at his family home in Rottingdean. After the untimely death of his daughter Josephine, this became intolerable, so in 1902 he bought 33 acres in Burwash as a comfort blanket in which to hide away. He chose well. The eastern High Weald is at once in the thick of things, London on its doorstep, yet when you’re standing in a field off the B2096, you might as well be in the Gobi desert. Unlike the western Weald, sliced by the A23, gouged by Gatwick and carpeted with commuters’ suburbia, its other half south of Tunbridge Wells is somehow under the radar, spurned by today’s escapees for more fashionable spots such as Hastings. What a treat they’re missing, this area of outstanding natural beauty, without any big moves but instead gazillion square miles of deeply English landscape: wooded hills, duck ponds, oast houses and tile-hung villages, as if art-directed for Country Life. Kipling country.
The case against Conservative with a small c, though you can find edgier spots deep in its folds. Not cheap, though mildly cheaper than many other places hereabouts.
Well connected? Trains: just over an hour to London Charing Cross from Wadhurst or Stonegate; 1hr 20 mins from Robertsbridge; 35 mins the other way to Hastings; Crowborough to the west is an hour and nine mins to London Bridge. Driving: the A21 can get cloggy at weekends and holidays, but generally it’s 25 mins to Tunbridge Wells, 35 mins to Hastings, 45 mins to the M25.
Schools Primaries: pretty much all “good”, Ofsted says, with Burwash CE, Maynards Green, Parkside, Netherfield and Goudhurst & Kilndown CofE “outstanding”. Secondaries: Heathfield, Uplands and Robertsbridge are all “good” and Cranbrook “outstanding”.
Hang out at… You won’t want for idyllic country pubs, such as the Bell at Ticehurst, the Salehurst Halt, or the George in Robertsbridge. The Small Holding, at Kilndown, is the local gastronauts’ darling.
Where to buy Pick a magical old village or market town: Ticehurst, Burwash, Mayfield, Northiam, Rolvenden, Goudhurst, Cranbrook. They’re all studded with historic cottages and townhouses, with huge piles, farms, barns and oast houses out in the country. A smattering of Victorian, Edwardian and 20th century. Fabulous stuff. A slight rise in prices towards the railway and A21. Large detacheds and townhouses, £600,000-£1.5m, and up to £4m for vast piles. Detacheds and smaller townhouses, £375,000-£600,000. Semis, £250,000-£900,000. Terraces and cottages, £175,000-£450,000. Flats, £100,000-£700,000. Rentals: not much. A one-bed flat, £500-£800pcm; a three-bed house, £800-£2,000pcm.
Bargain of the week Want a project? A huge four-bed detached near Burwash, with three acres, barn and outbuildings, in need of refurbishment, £750,000, with freemanforman.co.uk.
From the streets
Richard Sutton-Smith “Even its dyed-in-the-wool blueness can’t detract from the area’s beauty.”
Philippa King “Ticehurst is a buzzing village: you won’t find any empty shops, charity shops or estate agents here.”
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