1927 Tour 005

Leaving Penshurst by the road of entry, the route is continued straight on, up the luxuriant Medway valley.  Half-a-mile short of Langton a turning leads steeply down to Groombridge, where cottages and church are ranged around a sloping green.  Behind the church, and approached by a footpath, is Groombridge Place, an outstanding example of the dignified architecture of Wren’s time.  From the foot of the village by the Eridge Road, and bearing left past the railway bridge, is the prettiest way imaginable to Tunbridge Wells, past pines and bracken and heather, and under the High Rocks.  The fashionable and royal days of Tunbridge Wells are no more, but the greenery and arcades of the Pantiles remain.

A fine stretch of the Hastings highway leaves Tunbridge Wells at the crest of the hill past the Central Station.  Beyond Pembury, where the distances appear away to the north and south, a signpost directs to Brenchley.  Further on is Horsmonden, then Goudhurst, perched high on a green slope.  This borderland of Kent and Sussex is country of the”hursts,” marked some way on by Lamberhurst, Wadhurst, Ticehurst, and Hawkhurst.  It abounds in little hills, and there are many trees, remnants of the forests that provided fuel for the Wealden iron industry when Sussex was England’s “Black Country.”  Then the county supplied Edward II with horseshoes, and Queen Elizabeth with cannons.  Inside many of the village dwellings are yet to be seen iron firebacks, dogs, and hearth and domestic implements.  Iron grave-slabs can be found in the churchyards – there is a remarkable collection of them at Wadhurst – and place-names, such as Ashburnham Furnace, recall the vanished industry.  Particularly good and abundant are the old houses and cottages fashioned in oak, plaster, tile-hanging and weather boarding.  Several of them are notable – Church House and Pattenden at Goudhurst, Shoyswell near Ticehurst, Hawkhurst Place, and to the south, the houses of Burwash and the rare Warbleton Priory.

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