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Recommendations please! Kent villages & towns between Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone

(14 Posts)
Doozie Thu 28-Jul-11 14:30:35

OH has just accepted a job in Maidstone so off to Kent we go! Please can anyone recommend where to live in between Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks? I'm quite keen to try village living, somewhere it is still possible to walk to a shop to pick up a paper and pint of milk. We have two pre-school children, so schools will be important.

OH is leaning more towards living in a town, Sevenoaks or TW which I would also consider. He's not keen to live in Maidstone, he wants some distance from work. Are there parts of these towns that are more desirable/practical/advantageous for schools than another areas?

Sorry so many questions! Not sure where to start. Thanks in advance for any local expertise!

CombineArvester Thu 28-Jul-11 21:00:03

TW is quite far from Maidstone if you want OH around a bit. What about a village / town near Maidstone like West Malling or Bearstead? Or have you thought about Tonbridge, a bit nearer and cheaper than TW which is not all its cracked up to be imo.

Buying or renting? What's your price bracket? Have you got the use of a car cos public transport isn't that great and will affect whether you live in a town or village, with two preschoolers you need to get out and about fairly easily.

stoppingat3 Thu 28-Jul-11 21:37:38

If you fancy the countryside and DH can do the travelling Tenterden is lovely - I was brought up in Rolvenden and its very nice. I now live near Battle but that is a bit of a trek to Maidstone.

For schools you could do no better than getting within the catchment of Cranbrook school - its a 13+ grammer and it always does well so prices hold well in the area (you have to board if you are outside it)

Sorry I can't help you with towns nearer TBW or Maidstone but the whole area is beautiful - I love it down here.

eatyourveg Thu 28-Jul-11 22:02:55

Plaxtol between 7/Oaks and Tonbridge is very old fashioned type village with a school and shop.

Underriver beautiful, has cricket pitch with regular sunday cricket, pub but no shop.

Bidborough and Penshurst between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells both with good schools, country pubs and village shops but both expensive.

Leigh (pronounced lie not lee) has a village school a large village green which doubles as the school playing field and there is a shop too.

Going towards Maidstone the better villages would be West Farleigh (another sunday cricket team place and lovely country pub but no village shop or school), or West Malling which is more like a small town than a village.

Shipbourne, north of Tonbridge and South of 7/Oaks has a tiny school, a village green and a good pub but no shop.

If money was no object I would go for Plaxtol, if money was tight I would have to head towards Maidstone where things tend to be cheaper but less old fashioned villagy iykwim

talkingnonsense Thu 28-Jul-11 22:10:20

Have a serious think about secondary schools. It is a v complicated mix of grammar, comp and high schools. Maidstone grammars easier to get into than Tonbridge/ Sevenoaks, if you are in catchment. Paddock wood and villages have a comp. T wells and 7 oaks have 2 super selective boys grammars and one ordinary, but the catchment for the girls grammar is v small. Please please research before you move if your children are anywhere near 11, you don't want to move twice!

talkingnonsense Thu 28-Jul-11 22:11:37

Also though maidstane is the county town it is poorer than t wells or 7oaks and this is reflected in schools, shops and house prices!

Sushiqueen Fri 29-Jul-11 07:29:55

Definitely check out the schools aspect. I live a few miles from Maidstone near West Malling and we fall into the catchment for quite a few schools in all directions. Including the grammar schools.

Where as Paddock Wood does not come under any of the grammar school catchments as Mascalls is considered to be enough.

The primary schools in the areas are generally bery good. i know the 2 where we live always do well and dd has loved her time at her school (we are on the move to a completely different county).

Check out the public transport as well. We are very well served by buses to all the big towns (Maidstone, Tonbridge, TW, Chatham etc) but not all the areas are, so if you don't want to drive to everywhere you will need to see what buses are available.

If your DH wants to live in a town it might be worth checking to see how the commute will take him at the busy times as some of the roads can get backed up and can be a nightmare. Though you soon learn the shortcuts down the country roads (as do a lot of others smile )

eatyourveg Fri 29-Jul-11 18:31:13

just to clarify what talkingnonsense said about T wells and 7 Oaks having 2 super selective grammars. 7/ Oaks doesn't have any grammars, it has an academy (Knole) which opened last september after an amalgamation of Bradbourne (all girls) and Wildernesse (all boys)

T/W has the girls grammar and Skinners a super selective boys grammar as well as the regular boys grammar. there is also Bennett memorial a C of E comp and St Gregory's a RC comp. Both have a wide catchment area. There is also the Skinners academy (don't get it muddled with the grammar which is one of its sponsers) it is the reincarnation of the secondary modern. They are struggling with a bad reputation and have had 3 different names in the last 16 years

Tonbridge has the girls grammar though they have dropped girls from the title as they take boys in the 6th form. It is a super selective as is Judd the boys grammar. There is also a regular girls grammar called the Weald of Kent. On top of that you have Hayesbrook for boys, Hillview for girls and Hugh Christie which is co-ed.

All these schools have a distinctive ethos and are very different to one another. If you head this way, you would be best advised to look at all of them.

the message is though that you are not limited to super selectives here as there are regular grammars too as well as church schools with good reputations and former secondary moderns whose reputations are increasing

Bonsoir Fri 29-Jul-11 18:35:09

You could live south of Maidstone in the catchment for Cranbrook School (a 13+ grammar)? Lovely villages and you would be based around Tenterden and Cranbrook, which are both lovely small towns with lots of Wealden character.

Doozie Fri 29-Jul-11 19:34:46

Thanks everyone - I really appreciate your replies. There is a terrific amount of info here. I will definitely have to do by homework when it comes to schools.

We are looking to buy, hoping to find something suitable around 700k. I hope this is reasonable but I've heard house prices are no better than London. I will be out with the map and on the property websites now the babes are in bed.

Is Tonbridge a lovely town? How does it compare?

eatyourveg Fri 29-Jul-11 20:26:04

I'm in Tonbridge. Its squashed between 7/Oaks and T/W which are both a lot more expensive. When we were moving here from Hertfordshire early 90s we looked at 7Oaks first. We were going to get 2 up 2 down terrace with on road parking. Had to be walking distance of station as we both commuted. Someone suggested Tonbridge and we haven't looked back. Got 3 bed with garden in a cul de sac for the same money. Much better train service than 7 oaks. Good schools and a Norman castle. Lots of London exiles here who come for the schools

Down side is that the high street has suffered from Bluewater (25mins) and the out of town shopping at North Farm 2-3 miles away (John Lewis, M&S Home, Next, Toys r Us et al) which is on T/W industrial estate. Saying that we have a Waitrose Sainsburys Beales dept store Big Monsoon WHSmith Boots Dorothy P and a brilliant Oxfam bookshop.

Divided by the river Medway the largest residential area is in the north. There are good areas and not so good areas. Woodlands primary school has had outstanding ofsteds for years. South Tonbridge is where most of the commuters live as its all within walking distance of the station. it has all but 1 of the secondary schools and a lot of large victorian housing.

if you have £700K to spend and want Tonbridge itself rather than surrounding villages then look at Yardley Park and the Ridgeway or Dry Hill Park area. These are where the biggest houses are. Alternatively Hildenborough is almost part of Tonbridge and the old village up by the church is lovely and you would probably find something in your price range there.

£700K would get you 4 decent sized beds 2 receptions and a sizeable garden with garage all off the main road pretty easily

ds2 used to go to school on the outskirts of maidstone (Tonbridge side) and it was a 30-40 minute drive in rush hour so not a bad commute for your dh

Bonsoir Fri 29-Jul-11 21:21:44


Doozie Fri 29-Jul-11 22:57:45

Impressive work Bonsoir. I'm not usually drawn to new builds but it has a lot of space. It even has a walk-in larder which OH has on his long list of unlikely requirements. OH will have to commute to London at least once a week so look into the commute from that part of Kent.

Bonsoir Sat 30-Jul-11 10:43:42

If your OH is only going to London once or twice a week, you should really be thinking about living beyond the main commuter belt as you will get much nicer accommodation for your money. It's perfectly possible to be in the Cranbrook school catchment with an excellent local village primary school and to be outside the main commuter belt. But you will need to work hard at crossing information from Ofsted/Cranbrook catchment/estate agent websites!

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