Commuting to London:seven of the best Kent villages less than 60 minutes from the capital - with good schools, shops and pubs

Idyllic Kent villages with pubs, shops and good schools are great commuter options and only an hour - or less - from London.

The true antidote to London life is a country village. It needs to look lovely, be thriving and active and have reasonable commuting access to London.

In the latest instalment of our series looking at the top commuter destinations for London workers, we find the best of the capital’s satellite villages in Kent.


The 14th Century Peacock Inn in Goudhurst, Kent (Alamy)

Where is it? Within Kent’s High Weald, between Tunbridge Wells and Ashford.

How to get there: trains from Marden, five miles away, take 56 minutes to reach Charing Cross. An annual season ticket costs from £4,428.

Plus points: the high street is pretty, with wonky timbered buildings and clapboard cottages. Goudhurst is in an elevated spot with beautiful views over open countryside. Good local facilities include tennis, football and cricket clubs, half a dozen pubs in walking distance, several useful village shops and a GP surgery. 

This is an affluent village where the shop sells artisanal bread and locally smoked meats. There is a pre-school, and the village school, Goudhurst & Kilndown CofE Primary School, is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. Seniors can go on to the top-performing Cranbrook School.

Lovely local destinations for a day out include the National Trust’s Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst Castle Garden, and Bewl Water reservoir. “It is the most sought-after village for miles,” says Mary Stanley, managing director of the Country Property Group. “It is a really vibrant village but there is something very calming about it. It is the good life.”

Watch out for: the hills — you need strong calf muscles to stroll around this village. And it is popular with tourists and day trippers, so it can get moderately crowded.

Property prices: about £350,000 will buy a two-bedroom cottage, while a four-bedroom family house will cost up to £650,000. Top-end houses at the village edge with a bit of land range from £1.5 million-£2 million.


The popular Red Lion Inn pub in the village of Bridge, just outside Canterbury (Alamy)

Where is it? On the edge of the Kent Downs, less than four miles from Canterbury.

How to get there: trains from Canterbury to St Pancras take 56 minutes. An annual season ticket costs from £5,172. 

Plus points: despite Bridge being a small village there are three pubs in the High Street, plus a mini market, a butchers and a post office. The local comunity is active, organising everything from kids’ groups to regular farmers’ markets. Bridge and Patrixbourne CofE Primary School gets a “good” Ofsted report, with some outstanding features. 

“It has a community and that is something people really enjoy,” says Edward Church, a partner at Strutt & Parker. “It’s got some good services, which really helps — all these things give it a life and soul. Bridge is rare, in that it still has most of the basics.”

Watch out for: parts of the village have suffered periodically from winter flooding, most recently in 2014. Depending on wind direction some houses get traffic noise from the nearby A2.

Property prices: a two-bedroom cottage costs about £250,000, and a four-bedroom family house would be about £500,000. At the top end, an edge-of-village house with five or six bedrooms and a few acres would set you back about £1.25 million.


St Georges Church in Benenden has stood here since the 11th Century (Alamy)

Where is it? In the beautiful High Weald, about 17 miles south-east of Tunbridge Wells.

How to get there: the nearest station is Staplehurst, seven-and-a-half miles away. Trains to Charing Cross take an hour, with an annual season ticket from £4,772. It might be quicker to drive the 16 miles to Ashford International and get the high-speed train to St Pancras, taking 38 minutes.

Plus points: Sarah Simmonds of Savills calls this a “quintessentially English” village, complete with a beautiful church, a green, a pub, and a quality primary school. There’s a good village shop, run now as a co-operative by locals after it was threatened with closure. Lovely local towns include Tenterden. 

Benenden falls within the catchment area of Cranbrook School, one of the UK’s best state schools, and there is, of course, the option of posh private Benenden girls’ school.

Watch out for: you will end up driving everywhere, and add parking costs if you are a commuter. If you use high-speed trains the season ticket is more expensive, from £5,140.

Property prices: about £350,000 for a two-bedroom cottage, from about £850,000 for a four-bedroom family house, and up to £2 million for a period house in five to 10 acres.

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