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Goudhurst is a village in Kentmarker on the Wealdmarker, about south of Maidstonemarker.It stands on a crossroads, where there is a large village pond. It is also in the Cranbrook catchment area.

Origin of name

The place name of Goudhurst is derived from the Old English guo hyrst, meaning Battle Hill, or the wooded hill on which a battle has been fought. The name commemorates a battle fought on this high ground in Saxon times. The spelling has evolved over the centuries: Gmthhyrste (c1100), Guthurst or Guhthersts (c1200), Gudhersts (1232), Guthhurste (1278), Goutherst (1316), Goodherst (1610), then the current-day spelling.


The church in Goudhurst probably existed long before 1119, its earliest recorded date. The church has been altered and restored many times over the centuries. Until 1637 it had a tall spire which was eventually destroyed by lightning. In 1638 three London masons rebuilt the west tower During the Victorian era the church was restored by the architect Richard CarpenterThe village was one of those involved in the Wealden iron industry; it was a centre for the growing of hops and for weaving. A group of weavers' cottages stands opposite the church.

The Battle of Goudhurst in 1747 led to the end of the Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers.

The village's recent history is extremely well documented. The Goudhurst Jubilee Book (1935), Goudhurst Coronation Book (1937) and Goudhurst and Kilndownmarker Millennium Book (2001, ISBN 0-9527822-1-9) contain detailed reminiscences, directories, historical notes, matters of local intelligence and records of celebrations starting from the 1800s and before, up to the current time. These books were printed as limited editions and are much sought after, as the authors painstakingly recorded not only the written but also the oral history of the village.

Goudhurst was the birthplace of the famous Kentish cricketer William Howard Vincent 'Hopper' Levett.


Bedgebury is one of the oldest estates in Kentmarker: having given its name to the de Bedgebury family, it passed into the hands of the Culpeper family in 1450. When the estate was sold in 1680, a new house was built which itself became a girls' school in the 1920s (closed in the summer of 2006). In 2007 the school was purchased by the BellEducational Trust, an educational charity. In the summer of 2007 the school reopened as the Bell Bedgebury International School, and the grounds also play host to the Bell Bedgebury Language Centre.Bedgebury Pinetummarker is nearby. It was acquired by the Forestry Commission in 1924.

Public transport

In the past, the branch railway line from Paddock Wood had a stationmarker for the village. It was opened on 1 October 1892 and was originally named 'Hope Mill for Goudhurst and Lamberhurstmarker' before being renamed to 'Goudhurst' on 4 September 1893, the day the final part of the line came into service – the extension to Hawkhurstmarker via Cranbrookmarker; physically, the station was about half a mile from the centre of Goudhurst, and somewhat further from Lamberhurst. The station was closed on 12 June 1961 because of lack of use, passenger numbers having dropped to fewer than 200 per day. The track was lifted in 1964, and in 1967 the station sites were offered for sale.

At present, the only public transport for Goudhurst are two bus routes operated by Arriva Southern Counties - the 26 to Maidstonemarker, and the 297 which runs to Tunbridge Wellsmarker in the west and Tenterdenmarker and Ashfordmarker in the east.

Notable people


  1. The Place Names of Kent, Judith Glover ISBN 0905270 614
  2. The Origin of English Place Names, P.H.Reaney ISBN 0710020104
  3. Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 3rd ed. 1995, s.v. "Edmund Kinsman", "John Young".
  4. Mary Waugh, Smuggling in Kent and Sussex 1700-1840 1985 ISBN 0 905392 48 5 pp 74-5


  • The Place Names of Kent, Judith Glover.
  • The Origin of English Place Names, P.H.Reaney.
  • The Dictionary of British Place Names
  • Dictionary of English Place Names, A.D.Mills.

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