Exploring Cranbrook

Next to Goupie’s headquarters Goudhurst, and previously featured Sissinghurst, is the small town Cranbrook. With its quaint streets, well preserved old buildings, and eclectic mix of shops, it’s a delight to walk through. To get the taste of it’s history head to the 15th Century timber-framed house holding Cranbrook Museum and containing 6,000 exhibits capturing Cranbrook through the years.

To learn more on the history of the town you could head to the unmissable, and potentially most famous, site of Cranbrook – Union Mill. This gorgeous 19th
Century windmill was built just before the end of the Napoleonic Wars and throughout its 200+ year life it has been both well-loved and neglected. Eventually, in 1958, a group of Dutch millwrights were employed to get the sweeps turning and to restore the mill. It is currently run by a group of volunteers who open it to the public on summer afternoons (usually between 2:30-5:30pm). Stoneground wholemeal flour is available for purchase in the Mill Shop on public open days. If you can’t make it at those times you can easily admire it from afar or take the virtual tour on the website.

Cranbrook Windmill

For a more adventurous trip, just outside the town’s hub is the Swattenden Centre. Catering to the capabilities and wishes of each visiting group, the Swattenden Centre offers a huge range of activities including archery, shelter building, raft building, and zip-lining, as well as pond dipping, scavenger hunting, problem solving and a whole lot more. For those looking to stay the night, they offer dormitory accommodation in either the mansion or the annex, and outdoor space for camping. Both Goupie children were treated to class visits when at school; enjoying an action packed day, completing lots of outdoor activities and having a lot of fun.

After all that action the perfect place to rest is Hartley Coffee House & Farm Shop. Set in the countryside, just outside the centre of Cranbrook and a few minutes from the Swattenden Centre, you can enjoy a coffee or tea overlooking the orchards. They sell locally grown vegetables, freshly baked bread, local tea, coffee, jams and sauces, as well as a large selection of English wines, locally made cider, and craft beers. They also have ready-to-eat takeaway baguettes and pies for those on the move. The farm shop additionally holds tasting events from their local suppliers (including Goupie) so you can get to know their produce even better!

Hartley coffee house

The centre hosts a great range of charity shops including Hospice in the Weald, Oxfam, Age UK and Heart of Kent Hospice to name a few- these are great places to find bargain books, interesting second hand clothing, and home goods. There is also a raft of independent shops selling jewellery, vintage clothes, and items for crafting. If you’re looking for some of the basics, the Cranbrook Co-op is the place to go. Did we mention they stock Goupie? You’ll find us in the local isle, alongside Fudge Kitchen, Kent Crisps and a few local Ciders.

In the corner of the town sits their church, often referred to as the ‘Cathedral of the Weald’ which is over 500 years old. Just one of church’s claims to fame is their clock which acted as the prototype for Big Ben. You can wander through the church yard when exploring the town and doing a bit of shopping, stop off at a coffee shop or pub, and have a lovely relaxing day. We recommend trying Cocolicious whilst you’re in the centre for a high quality coffee and slice of cake!

Cranbrook Church

This piece was created by Hanna Simpson on behalf of Goupie.