Saturday, 18 April 2020

Lockdown look back #2: May 2017 - Eynsford (Pt. II) & Farningham, Kent

So we find ourselves back in Eynsford on the 1st May 2017 for Lockdown Look Back Number 2, which begins with an erratum.  In the previous post I said that we stopped for lunch at Riverside Tearooms on our way to Farningham; in fact, as I recalled after posting, we had tea there on the way back from Farningham having clocked the place as we headed out.  (It was still very nice, though, either way.)


Rounding the corner from the tea room we headed over the bridge (not through the ford, although one or two young families were rolling up their trouser legs and doing just that!) and along Sparepenny Lane, the road that runs alongside the River Darent to Farningham.


Passing pub number three, The Plough Inn, we stopped to admire the series of weirs on this section of the river before carrying along the road and up to the Darent Valley. 

The weather had been unpredictable all day and as we neared the top of the valley the clouds were definitely gathering until before long they looked about ready to heave open, which indeed they promptly did.  Fortunately I had come prepared with my trusty whangee-handled brolly, which was quickly pressed into service when the rain came tipping down.  Arm-in-arm under its protective canopy we continued on our way to Farningham, stopping only briefly to take the following photo:

The next village back from Eynsford is Shoreham - not to be confused with the town of Shoreham-by-sea in West Sussex.  What they do share is an aviation link - Shoreham-by-sea boasts a spiffing Art Deco terminal building as part of Brighton City Airport (a.k.a Shoreham Airport, the oldest aerodrome in Britain), where the annual Shoreham Airshow takes place, while Shoreham in Kent is home to the much smaller but no less interesting Shoreham Aircraft Museum (of which more anon!).  Dedicated to the memory of the heroic pilots who fought over the skies of Kent (and further afield) during WW2, the volunteers have in recent years arranged for memorial stones to be placed at known sites where some of these brave fellows met their end and one such stone can be found on Sparepenny Lane.  Thoughts turned to these brave young chaps and, with photos taken, we pushed on into Farningham.


The weather had cleared up somewhat by this time (although not quite as sunny as in the above picture, which is looking back down Farningham high street towards the way we came in), as we arrived at Farningham to be presented with another wonderfully picturesque Kent village.

Heading up the high street we crossed over the 18th century bridge leading to the village.  You may be forgiven for thinking the structure in my photo (above) and the picture below was once part of an older crossing but in fact it was never a bridge at all.  It is in fact a cattle screen, built to stop cows and other farm animals from escaping via the river!


Just over the other side of the bridge is where we did stop for lunch, The Lion public house.  Set in a lovely red brick building (it claims to be 16th century but to my eyes looks more late 18th/ early 19th), it is now part of the Vintage Inn group but was very sympathetically decorated inside and with a good selection of food (I still can't remember what we had though, sorry!).


After an enjoyable lunch (during which I almost forgot my camera!) we headed on up the hill in to the village proper.  Smaller even than Eynsford, with consequently no tea rooms and only two pubs(!) there were nevertheless some charming cottages and other such delights to hold our attention.


As well as its proximity to Eynsford and equally beautiful village aspect, Farningham boasted another feature that had attracted us.  Making our way up the high street we soon came to it (in the above photo on the left, just around the corner) - a topping little antiquarian bookshop housed in a charming 17th century listed cottage.

Wadard Books is one of those wonderful old bookshops that we both love so much and are so grateful to still come across.  Of the sort run by an older couple (complete with cat) who can be found at a desk hidden behind shelves of books, one has to ring a bell to be allowed in to peruse their wares, which were substantial, wide-ranging and endlessly fascinating.  We would have happily taken it all home!  The little annexes outside housed the cheaper, more modern end of the spectrum but there were still some excellent bargains to be had both there and within.  Once we were inside we spent an age browsing and chatting to the old boy.  I made a beeline for the military history, aviation and motoring sections and it was in this last that I scored my best find (the others are again, I'm afraid, lost to memory).

Browsing through the motorsport shelves I was immediately drawn to this book, partly due to its age but mainly due to the name and title on the spine.  G.E.T. Eyston was none other than George Eyston, noted racing driver of the 1920s & '30s and three-time holder of the land speed record (of whom I have blogged about previously)  A quick inspection revealed no price so it was presented to the old chap at the desk with the question "how much?".  Taking it from me, he joked that I had managed to find the only book in the place without a price before coming to a decision - "shall we say £5?".  Reader, I nearly bit his arm off!  Although externally its condition is only acceptable for its age, internally the text and photographs are still bright, with some wonderful colour plates to boot!

Well satisfied with our little haul and vowing to return another day (which of course we did!) we headed back to Eynsford and tea at the Riverside Tearoom.  We both had a thoroughly enjoyable time and the day forms a very happy memory for all sorts of reasons.  Eynsford and Farningham are two beautiful villages in the best Kentish tradition, which I can heartily recommend visiting, and I look forward to returning to them again once all this is over.


  1. Lovely photos old chap.
    You paint the perfect picture. When all this fuss has ended it seems just the place to spend a leisurely Sunday.

  2. Beautiful places and photography. Seems you had a great find and it ended with a fine book.


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