Landscape Character Working Group
Describing Tenterden’s lanscape character, ie the distinct appearance and feel of a settlement or area to communicate the key physical features and characteristics that combine to give its local distinctiveness and unique identity.
To assist in conserving and enhancing the character of Tenterden Parish.
The geology of the Tenterden area is predominantly comprised of sandstones, siltstone and claystones of the Lower Cretaceous Hastings Beds Subgroup (Figure ‘geol map’). The main town lies on a ridge locally underlain by the Tunbridge Wells Sandstone Formation. The older Wadhurst Clay Formation generally lies in a mid-slope position beneath the Tunbridge Wells Sandstone. The Ashdown Formation is the oldest unit is the area and usually only occurs towards the base of local slopes where rivers have eroded valleys deep enough into the Hastings Beds Subgroup. The distinctive High Weald landscape of sandstone capped ridges and steep sided valleys or gills was formed by erosion of the Hastings Beds, and the Tenterden area provides a classic example of this landscape.
An important inversion fault, the “Biddenden Fault”, lies in the north east of the area, running from Biddenden through St Michaels and along the north-east margin of the Leigh Green ridge.
Younger rocks of the Weald Clay Formation lie on the north east side of this fault line. The generally lower lying and more gently undulating landscape characteristic of the Low Weald was formed by erosion of the softer Weald Clay units. There is a contrast between the more steeply eroded and dissected landscape of the High Weald Hastings Beds Subgroup to the south of the Biddenden Fault and the gentler undulating landscape of the Low Weald north of the fault.
Iron ore was extracted and smelted in the Weald area from pre-Roman times through to the 19th Century, with most production from clay ironstone beds towards the base of the Wadhurst Clay. Weald Clay occurs in the north east part of the Tenterden area, and some limited extraction and brick-making may have occurred locally here in the past. In medieval times Tunbridge Wells
Sandstone was likely to have been excavated locally to be used in the construction of St Mildreds Church and nearby manor houses. The main tower at St Mildreds was constructed primarily from Paludina Limestone from the Bethersden area, a durable fossiliferous carbonate bed within the Weald Clay Formation which is also known as Bethersden Marble.
The Tenterden area lies within the Rother catchment, with the land draining south and east into the Rother valley. The underlying geology is mainly the Tunbridge Wells Sandstone and Ashdown Formations of the Hastings Beds Subgroup. The faulted landform of clays, sand and soft sandstones with outcrops of fissured sandrock and ridges running east–west, are deeply incised and intersected with numerous gill streams, such as Tilder Gill, which form the headwaters of the Rother, which flows in a broad valley.
Water supply in the Tenterden area is almost equally split between one surface water source Bewl and 3 ground water sources. The three groundwater bodies in the Rother Catchment are Drinking Water Protection Areas, where substances used on land use are carefully managed to prevent pollution. The groundwater bodies were classified as having poor status in 2014.
The variations in geology and topography allow for many other natural resources, including a wide range of farming systems to operate within the Parish, such as:
• Livestock – Cattle, Sheep and Pigs
• Vines – for wines and juices
• Arable – Wheat, Maize, Beans, Peas, Linseed, Oats, Barley
• Top Fruit – whole crop and for cidery’s
• Soft Fruit
• Game – Pheasant, Partridge, Wild Boar
• Timber – in particular coppice rotation throughout the Parish
• Limited and mainly small-scale poultry production