For the town in Western Australia, see Tenterden, Western Australia.

Tenterden Town railway station

St Mildred's Church
 Tenterden shown within Kent
Area  36.19 km2 (13.97 sq mi)
Population 7,735 (Civil Parish 2011)[1]
    density  214/km2 (550/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTQ885334
Civil parishTenterden
Shire countyKent
RegionSouth East
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode district TN30
Dialling code 01580
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK ParliamentAshford


List of places

Coordinates: 51°04′11″N 0°41′23″E / 51.069620°N 0.689800°E / 51.069620; 0.689800

Window in St Mildred's Church.

Tenterden is a town with a large conservation area in the Ashford District of Kent, England. It stands on the edge of the remnant forest The Weald, overlooking the valley of the River Rother. It was a member of the Cinque Ports Confederation. Its riverside today is not navigable to large vessels and its status as a wool manufacturing centre has been lost. Tenterden has several voluntary organisations, some of which are listed below, seven large or very old public houses within its area and has long distance walking and cycling routes within its boundaries.

The town's name is derived from the Old English "Tenet Waraden", meaning a den or forest clearing in the forest which belonged to the men of Thanet.


The first record of dwellings in Tenterden can be found in a charter which mentions that it, as 'Heronden', began to grow from the 14th century around the strong local wool industry. Unlike other such centres in the Weald it had the advantage of access to the sea. Much of what is now Romney Marsh was under water, and ships docked at nearby Smallhythe. Timber from the Wealden forests was used to construct ships, and in 1449 Tenterden was incorporated into the Confederation of Cinque Ports as a limb of Rye. Ships built in the town were then used to help Rye fulfil its quota for the Crown.

A school was in existence here in 1521; later (in 1666) it was referred to as a grammar school. Today Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, a large secondary school catering for the Weald and south of Ashford Borough is in Tenterden.

In 1903, Tenterden Town railway station was opened. It closed in 1954, but half of it reopened in 1974 as the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The route starts at Tenterden Town Station and finishes at Bodiam station, near Bodiam Castle. The main line track is being extended to Robertsbridge (near Hastings) in East Sussex.

Local government

Tenterden Borough Council was the local authority from the time of its first Mayor, Thomas Petlesden in 1449, until the Local Government Reorganisation in 1974, at which time the former borough of Tenterden came under the control of Ashford Borough Council. At this time Tenterden Borough Council resolved to continue as a Town Council.

Essential services such as education, transportation, social services and public safety are the responsibility of Kent County Council.

Ashford Borough Council is the district authority, and as such is responsible for waste collection & recycling, street cleaning, licensing, planning, housing, environmental issues, cemeteries, parking, tourism and tax collection. Tenterden has four Borough Councillors.

Tenterden Town Council, based in the 18th century Town Hall (on the High Street), has continued to be very active, providing and maintaining two recreation grounds (including play areas), two public gardens, three blocks of public conveniences, a number of bus shelters, some 82 benches (as of 2013), and the town's war memorial. The Town Council also supports local sports clubs, providing a bowls green and football pitch (along with a sports pavilion with changing facilities) and stages the annual May Fayre. For administrative purposes the town is divided into four wards: North, South, West and St. Michaels (St. Michaels being the area of the town to the north), electing sixteen Town Councillors. As well as supporting local clubs and societies which meet frequently, the Town Council is a supporter of a number of annual events, including Tentertainment, Tenterden Folk Festival and the Christmas lighting display.

Churches and chapels

There are two parish churches, as well as a number of other chapels and religious meeting spaces:

It was a major surveying point in the Anglo-French Survey (1784–1790) to calculate the precise distance between the Paris Observatory and the Royal Greenwich Observatory, overseen by General William Roy.


Tenterden is a nodal centre with routes radiating to Rolvenden and Hastings (A28), Wittersham and Rye (B2082), Appledore and New Romney (B2080), Woodchurch and Hamstreet (B2067) and Ashford and Maidstone (A28/A262). Tenterden has no mainline railway station, with the nearest being Headcorn (9 miles) and Ashford International (12 miles).

Tenterden's broad, tree-lined High Street offers a selection of shopping facilities, making the town an important destination for a number of smaller towns and villages in the area. It has a busy town centre which is home to many small boutiques and antique shops, as well as craft shops, book shops and various banks, side by side with larger national retailers. There is also a large Tesco which is accessible to pedestrians from the High Street (and by vehicles from Smallhythe Road), and a Waitrose store accessed by pedestrians from Sayers Lane (with vehicular access from Recreation Ground Road).

A number of local tourist attractions draw a great many visitors, especially the Kent & East Sussex Railway line to Bodiam, Chapel Down (a local vineyard which produces some highly acclaimed wines) and Smallhythe Place, which once belonged to the late Ellen Terry, which now holds both a museum and a theatre. Tenterden and District Museum is at the heart of the town, on Station Road.

The town also benefits from a leisure centre at the end of Recreation Ground Road, which was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1990, run by Ashford Borough Council.

Public houses

Its large and/or old pubs are generally owned by Kentish breweries and are:

Local organisations

Chamber of Commerce

The Tenterden and District Chamber of Commerce, a community interest company, promotes and supports businesses in Tenterden and the surrounding area. The Chamber is a thriving organisation which holds regular networking meetings for members, runs the Tenterden Town community website, publishes the InCinque Newsletter (featuring general local news and events), organises a town brochure, has input into the many walking guides, the Christmas street lights (in partnership with Tenterden Town Council), places smaller Christmas trees over the doorways of member businesses on the High Street, and supports Tentertainment and the Folk Festival. In 2013 the Chamber of Commerce launched the 'I Love Tenterden' card – a loyalty card scheme whereby member businesses offer incentives for card holders to use their services; its main aim, to keep trade local to Tenterden.

Horticultural society

Its Horticultural Society organises lectures and shows throughout the year in a number of locations around the town.

Lions Club of Tenterden

Tenterden Lions Club was formed in 1958; its members serve the community by giving time to local needs and raising money for local, national and international good causes. In spring time each year the club plants crocus bulbs along the greens, and every December the club arranges for Father Christmas to travel around Tenterden and some of the local villages providing enjoyment, as well as collecting money to support various good causes.

Mothers' Union

The Tenterden branch of the Mothers' Union is very active, organising lectures and visits on a regular basis.

National Trust

The National Trust holds regular lectures on a diverse range of subjects at the Junior School on Recreation Ground Road.

Rotary Club of Tenterden

The Rotary Club is very active, bringing together local business people in aid of a number of charitable causes. The club runs a number of events all year round.

Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion branch in Tenterden has had great success in the annual poppy appeal, and is responsible for the very moving (and well-attended) service at the War Memorial each year on Remembrance Sunday.

Tenterden and District Residents Association

The TDRA aims to represent the wishes of its members on a broad range of subjects, allowing the voice of local residents to be heard on a number of platforms that might otherwise be out of reach.

Tenterden Operatic and Dramatic Society

The local amateur dramatic society is TODS, which was founded (in its current form) in 1958, following the merger of a number of different companies. The society puts on three productions each year, almost always in the Assembly Room at the Town Hall, and is often recognised in the Kent Drama Association Full-Length Play Festival.

Weald of Kent Lodge

The local chapter of the East Kent Freemasons is the Weald of Kent Lodge, which undertakes a great deal of charitable work.

Women's Institute

The Women's Institute has three branches based in the town: Tenterden, Tenterden Glebe, and St. Michaels.

Local events

Christmas market and late-night shopping

The Tenterden Christmas Market is an annual event and in 2016 it is a 3 day event on the last weekend in November; Friday evening, and all day Saturday and Sunday, featuring beautiful Christmas lights, food, produce and craft stalls, Santa's Grotto, Christmas Carols and lots of entertainment. Ashford Borough Council supports the event by offering free parking in some of the town's car parks.

May Fayre

The May Fayre is arranged by Tenterden Town Council and is held every year on the May Bank Holiday Monday.


Tentertainment is a free music festival which is held on the first weekend in July. The first Tentertainment was mounted to coincide with the Tour de France coming through the town in 2007, and has been held every year since.

Tenterden Folk Festival

Tenterden Folk Festival is a four-day event held on the first weekend in October each year, and has been running for 21 years. A wide range of musicians take part in the event in a number of venues throughout the town, and a craft market is set up on the recreation ground and along the High Street. A highlight of the event is the procession, held on the Saturday, featuring Morris Dancers from across the country.

Emergency services


Kent Police opened Tenterden Police Station in Oaks Road (on the outskirts of the town centre) in 1956, before replacing it with a smaller Front Counter in a retail unit on the High Street at the beginning of the 21st century. This in turn was closed in 2012, with the town's police force based entirely at Ashford Police Station.

Fire and Rescue

Kent Fire and Rescue Service has an on call fire engine based in St. Michaels, which is still operational as of 2015.

Medical care

The National Health Service with Kent County Council operate West View Integrated Care Centre (known locally as West View Hospital), providing adult social care and health care on the same site. The hospital which is near the town centre provides residential care for 30 dementia patients and a rehabilitation service for 30 adult patients who need help before they return home after illness or injury. The hospital also provides inpatient and outpatient physiotherapy. There is no Accident & Emergency department at the hospital but an ambulance with trained paramedics is usually on-call offering a quick response to local emergencies. The nearest local Accident & Emergency department is at the William Harvey Hospital, in Willesborough near Ashford.

The NHS also operates two clinics in the centre of the town. Ivy Court Surgery, a regular General Practitioner's surgery, offering a range of medical services and regular appointments during the week, and an Urgent Care Centre for walk-in patients with minor injuries and illnesses at the weekend (mornings only). East Cross Clinic, next door to Ivy Court, offers counselling, speech therapy and podiatry.

Notable residents



Tenterden hit the national headlines in August 2013, when it was proclaimed to be the first town in Britain to put up its Christmas lights. The lights had been erected in a tree 115 days before Christmas to publicise the Chamber of Commerce's efforts to raise the funds to replace the previous Christmas lights, which had gone missing in 2012.[2]

Tenterden High Street suffered a serious fire on 5 November 2013, affecting Webb's Cookware Store and neighbouring buildings Café Rouge and Waterstones.

Local media

Tenterden has one local commercial radio station, KMFM Ashford, which serves the entire borough of Ashford.There is also one local community radio station Radio Ashford. The town is also served by county wide stations BBC Radio Kent, Heart Kent and Gold. It lies within the BBC South East and ITV Meridian regions.

The local newspaper is the Kentish Express, published by the KM Group. Tenterden is also served by two free newspapers – Ashford Extra from the KM Group, and yourashford published by KOS Media on Wednesdays.


Tenterden is twinned with the following places


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