The beautiful village one hour from London which has its own Leicester Square
For many of us Leicester Square is one of the iconic symbols of London.
It’s a clubbers, a place to sip cocktails and catch glitzy movie premieres.
So what does this have in common with a small square surrounded by pretty half-timbered houses in a village in Kent, you will ask?
The funny fact is that Leicester Square, the beautiful village of Penshurst in Kent, is named after the same people as Leicester Square in London.
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It’s not far from Royal Tunbridge Wells on the River Medway and it’s a beauty!
The village takes its name from the magnificent Elizabethan Penshust House which still stands behind it and which you can visit to this day. It is one of the most beautiful manors in England and is full of treasures.
Founded in 1341 by the Sidney family, the manor was given to them as a gift by King Edward VI who wished to reward the services of his guardian and steward of his house, Sir William Sidney.
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As the family’s fortunes continued to rise, Robert Sidney inherited the house in 1626 and received the title of 2nd Earl of Leicester.
The pretty little square in the village of Penshurst therefore bears his name.
But what does that have to do with Leicester Square in London.
Well, the Sidneys built a house in 1636 which they called Leicester House. Although it is difficult to imagine, it was then located in the open field
The house was finally demolished between 1791-92. No trace of it remains, except for the name now given to Leicester Square which we know and love.
Leicester Square Penshurst is surrounded by very old half-timbered buildings.
One side is occupied by a magnificent old guild house, built in the 16th century.
From the square you can walk through a beautiful wooden archway to St John’s Cemetery. This is another amazing old building that may have had its foundations in Saxon times and has certainly been known since 1115.
The beautiful post office has a horseshoe shaped entrance.
This place really takes you back in time and couldn’t be more different from Leicester Square in London.
Penshurst Place itself is a great day out for the family and is full of fascinating history.
For example, it once belonged to Henry VIII who used it as a hunting lodge. He could even have stayed in Penshurst while secretly wooing Anne Boleyn when she was at Hever Castle.
The villainous Henry had also previously had an affair with Anne’s younger sister, Mary, and some of their meetings may have taken place in Penshurst.
Costumes from the 2008 film “The Other Boleyn Girl” are on display at Penshurst Place in the Long Gallery and the wedding feast in the film was filmed there.
So the next time you are in Kent it is definitely worth a visit to Penshurst, but don’t forget to stop in the beautiful village next door and find the little Leicester Square.