This small town southeast of London offers family fun and interesting history amid a pretty rural setting full of wildlife, trees and rolling hills.
The small town of Tonbridge is a peaceful retreat, with charming traditional British pubs and shops, along the Medway River. There’s also historical landmarks, including a castle and a manor house, and several markets. The town sits just outside London and is a popular spot for tourists looking for a short break from the capital city. Spend a quiet afternoon at a pub by the river or exploring an English country garden.
Start your visit in the center of town at the Tonbridge Castle. Take an audio tour for a small fee to learn about the 900-year-old history of the castle then relax in the surrounding gardens.
Visit one of the markets in town. Buy fresh local produce from the Farmers Market on the second Sunday of every month. The regular Saturday market in the town center has been running since 1259. Today, stall vendors sell everything from clothes and hardware to fresh fruit, vegetables and meat.
East of the town center is the Church of St. Thomas à Becket, famous for its 13th- and 14th-century wall paintings. It’s said that Becket, who was the archbishop of Canterbury, preached at the church almost 1,000 years ago.
Head further east and you’ll come to the small town of Paddock Wood and The Hop Farm Family Park. At this adventure park you can jump around on Giant Jumping Pillows, watch a 4-D movie about pirates and pet animals such as calves, lambs and goats on the farm.
Drive 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers) west of Tonbridge to Penshurst Village, where you’ll come to the majestic Penshurst Place. The manor house dates back to the 14th century and was the ancestral home of an aristocratic family. Stroll through its scenic walled gardens and admire the colorful flowers. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic.
Tonbridge is a 1-hour drive southeast of London. Come by train from the capital and train or bus from many towns in the surrounding Kent County. Rent a bike to enjoy the fresh air and pretty English countryside.