Brenchley is a village situated nine miles east of Royal Tunbridge Wells, in the Weald of Kent and in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, amongst orchards and farmland. Hops have been grown in this area for over one hundred years, especially the famous variety known as, “Fuggles”. This was first developed commercially in 1875. The main village street contains a number of old attractive timbered houses.
The name, Brenchley, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “Branca’s Leigh”. Braenca was the name of the head of the settlement which was made in a clearing or leigh in the woods. The Old Palace is a row of Grade II Listed half-timbered cottages, including the village Post Office and dates from the 15th century. It is known as a palace because Charles Beauclerk, the first Duke of St. Albans, owned it until his death in 1726. He was the illegitimate son of King Charles II and Nell Gwynn. Terry’s Butcher shop is housed in a timber-framed building known as, Queen Anne’s Hunting Lodge, although the reason for this name is not known.
All Saints Church is built of local sandstone and dates from approximately 1233. An avenue of four hundred year old yew trees lead to it. There is an ornate lychgate erected to commemorate Queen Victoria’s sixty years as Queen. Adjacent to the lychgate, is a memorial plaque dedicated to those who fought and died in the Battle of Britain over this corner of England in August-September 1940. The square tower of the church can be seen from many parts of the High Weald.
Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasants Revolt against Richard II in 1381, is said to have lived in a cottage in Brenchley. With supporters from Kent, he marched on London.
In more recent times, Sophie Rhys-Jones, HRH Countess of Wessex and wife of Prince Edward, whom she married in 1999, grew up in a 17th century farmhouse in Brenchley.