Bedgebury Park Estate, Goudhurst

Historical Country Estate * Annexed to Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest * Mountain biking & hiking * Local Sports & Attractions

Bedgebury Park, Kent

History of Bedgebury Park

John de Bedgebury is listed as the earliest resident of Bedgebury, in the time of Edward the 2nd in the early 1300s. Members of John's family are buried in Goudhurst Church and are linked by marriage to the Colepepers, also known as the Culpeppers.

In 1682, James Hayes bought the property. He had just suddenly become wealthy by salvaging the contents of a sunken Spanish treasure ship. He demolished the old house as being unserviceable and built a new brick house on a different location, seven windows wide and two storeys tall, the central three bays contained within a pedimented breakfront. The architect is likely to have been Elizabeth Lady Wilbraham (1632-1705), the world’s first woman architect and the architectural teacher of Christopher Wren.

In 1836, the house was encased in stone and made three storeys tall, and a 2-storey wing was added on each side. In 1855, the wings were made three storeys tall and a high French-style roof was added over the whole complex.

He also improved the estate between 1840 and 1848 by creating the village of Kilndown and three lodges. One of these, Keepers Lodge, now known as Park House, is in the centre of the Pinetum. The ornamental Park developed from the late 17th century. We know that from 1850 the estate staff increased – to 40 gardeners at the peak – housed at Kilndown and Bedgebury hamlet.

Bedgebury lies in the heart of the Kent iron producing area. The Bakers of Sissinghurst and the Culpeppers were landowners who set up iron works, where raw iron stone was smelted with charcoal to produce the pig iron, and then turned into iron products, mostly munitions. These processes required a plentiful supply of water, wood and charcoal.

The iron industry had a significant effect on the woodland as much was coppiced and processed into charcoal. Direct evidence of this remains throughout Bedgebury in the form of charcoal heaths. In the early 1600s the people of Cranbrook made a formal complaint about the consumption of wood, destined for the casting of guns. Pond bays and penstocks (or reservoirs) are also visible remainders of the iron industry as are the names Furnace Farm and Forge Farm. Lake Lousia, now part of Bedgebury Park was probably one of the penstocks for Frith Furnace. Bedgebury is surrounded by a number of old farmsteads. Some were former manors and others were part of the Bedgebury Estate and at one time the estate included 30 farms.

Local Restaurants
The West House in Biddenden. Graham Garrett's one-star Michelin restaurant. Visit: www.thewesthouserestaurant.co.uk
The Swan at Chapel Down Vineyard, Tenterden. Visit: www.loveswan.co.uk
The Great House, Hawkhurst. Visit: www.elitepubs.com
The Vineyard, Lamberhurst. Visit: www.elitepubs.com

Bedgebury Pinetum
Bedgebury National Pinetum has the largest collection of coniferous trees in the world. In 1919 the forestry commission bought the woodlands in association with the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. It is located adjacent to Bedgebury Park. Visit: bedgeburypinetum.org.uk

Bedgebury Forest
There are walking trails, cycling trails, bridleways, playgrounds, a cafe, nordic walking and a green gym. Visit: forestry.gov.uk/bedgebury

Bedgebury forest events
Bedgebury forestry commission run a packed programme of events for families, as well as cultural and music events for adults, Click here for the forestry commission events calendar

Go Ape at Bedgebury Pinetum
Go Ape  is an outdoor adventure company which runs Tree Top adventure courses in forests across the UK consisting of rope ladders, zip-lines, rope bridges, trapezes and swings. £30 adult, £25 children. Visit: goape.co.uk/sites/bedgebury

Mountain biking
Bring your bike and explore the network of cycle routes catering for all levels of ability and stamina.

National Trust Properties
Kent and Sussex has a multitude of National Trust properties to visit including Sissinghurst, Scotney, Bodiam, Chartwell, Smallhythe, Knole Park and Bateman's. Visit: www.nationaltrust.org

Bewl Water
Bewl Water is a beautiful reservoir in the valley of the River Bewl, straddling the boundary between Kent and East Sussex. The reservoir was originally part of a project to increase supplies of water in the area and now offers a whole range of leisure activities. Bewl Water is about two miles from Bedgebury Park. Visit: www.bewlwater.co.uk
Fishing at Bewl
Fly fishing: Premier trout fishing  - day permits and boat hire available.
Private lessons available.
Fly Fishing experience  - 4hrs, including 1 hour lesson and 3 hours independent fishing. 
Experience fly fishing day includes 3 hour lesson, motor boat and all tackle. 
Bewl Water Outdoor and Water Sports 
The centre offers sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and rock climbing
1/2 day sessions available 
Children's sailing lessons (from 9yrs.)
2 day Powerboating course. 
Bewl Resevoir Cycle trail
Ride part or all of 12.5km trail around the Reservoir.

Arena Pursuits, Flimwell.
Outdoor pursuits and adventure centre. Situated in 250 acres of land adjacent to Bewl Water, a couple of miles from Bedgebury Park. Family opportunities for: Quad Biking, Clay Pigeon shooting, Archery, 4x4 Driving, Paint-balling, Food Foraging and Bootcamps. Stag and hen party visits can be arranged as can corporate days.

Golf and lessons at the beautiful Dale Hill Golf Club, Ticehurst
Considered to be the top club in Sussex, Gabriella is a member and regular player here. There are many other golf courses in the area and as a keen golfer Gabriella can advise you on which  other courses you might like to. Visit. www.dalehill.co.uk

West Kent Shooting School at Paddock Wood
Open Monday-Friday only for clay pigeon shooting.
Visit: wkss.demon.co.uk

Biddenden Vineyard
Biddenden is Kent's oldest commercial vineyard. Established by the Barnes family in 1969,  it has nine varieties of grape producing white, red, rosé and sparkling wines. Visit the Vineyard shop for wine, cider, jam, souvenirs and other local produce. Tours and wine tasting by arrangement. Visit: www.biddendenvineyards.com. Also Hush Heath and several gin producers.

Kino Cinema, Hawkhurst
A small cinema with an old fashioned feel. Visit: www.kinodigital.co.uk

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