Painter’s Forstal takes its name from Painters, a 16th Century house on the edge of the village. There is one historic pub – The Alma – which remains a crucial hub for community life. The white clapperboard building has been a tavern since 1837 and was originally known as The Candle House, a name derived from the landlord lighting candles to guide thirsty hop pickers to the pub in the dark after working in the nearby fields. The bar, restaurant and garden now welcome locals, cyclist and walkers keen to explore the parish’s network of footpaths, bridleways and country lanes. The pub hosts monthly quizzes, events and a cribbage team that competes in a local league, and also offers welcome respite from the cold to the local carol singers who gather each Christmas to go house-to-house in the village bringing festive cheer.
Opposite the pub is a children’s playground, maintained by the parish council along with the small grass triangle – known as the ‘forstal’ – which is next to it and gives the village its name. Close by is the small Methodist church, Champion Hall, which doubles as a community venue for local clubs, events including parties and the annual Easter Egg Hunt for children. Many ramblers and families visiting the parish stay at Painters Farm camping site, which is just a few hundred metres’ walk away from the pub down a country lane. It is also the venue for the annual barn dances that brings together locals from surrounding villages and nearby Faversham.
Many, no doubt, are attracted not only by the rolling landscape of farmland, orchards and vineyards but by the parish’s most famous attraction – Brogdale Farm, which is home to the National Fruit Collection. There are guided and self-guided tours of the collection, which is owned and supported by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as an internationally recognised genetic resource and maintained in partnership with the University of Reading. The farm holds seasonal fruit festivals that bring in visitors from around the globe attracted by the chance to enjoy local produce and crafts. Annual events include the cherry and plum festivals in summer and the apple festival in autumn. It also holds courses in skills ranging from vegetable growing and pruning to preserving fruit and has the only nine inch gauge miniature railway open to the public in the UK. The nine locomotives run on a quarter of a mile of track through the orchards and are maintained by the Faversham Miniature Railway Society. There is also a market place courtyard with traders selling local meat, fruit, veg, meat and plants.
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