Ad – this is a collaborative post but as always, all thoughts are my own.
Southborough has a special place in my heart as I lived there for 10 happy years. I loved having the shops and the common on my doorstep and have enjoyed seeing it prosper as a town and community. So I was delighted to find out that Southborough is included in Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s ‘Say Hi to your High Street’ campaign, to encourage us all to visit our high streets and to support the much loved independent businesses we are lucky to have.
With the opening of The Southborough Hub and the news of a new noodle bar, nail salon and Indian cafe set to open soon, it feels like this town is getting a new lease of life.
Visitors can have two hours free parking in the carpark next to The Hub (just as you turn onto Yew Tree Road from The London Road) and the many specialist shops in Southborough really set it apart as a place to go.
Southborough Common is just lovely and a walk down to Holden Pond or a play at Pennington Park is a must for families too. So here it is – 10 terrific things to do in Southborough!
The Earl Grey Tea Rooms
I can’t tell you how excited I was when The Earl Grey Tea Rooms opened in Southborough. These vintage style tearooms have been such a wonderful addition to Southborough high street and I have spent many a morning or afternoon chatting with friends or family in this charming cafe.
Owned by the lovely Roz, this has to be one of the best cafes in the borough. The cakes are delicious as well as the lunches and the vintage decor is fabulous. Roz and her team are so thoughtful and caring, always ensuring their customers, both young and old, are looked after well. It has been a joy living just down the road from The Earl Grey. They are currently open Friday to Sunday, 9.30am to 2.30pm for takeaway and have some seating out the front too. Their hours will no doubt change in the coming weeks so I’ll update this post when they do.
Southborough Hub & Library
At last, the Southborough Hub has been unveiled and the library is now open. It is so lovely to have a brand new glossy library and I enjoyed having a browse the other day.
The light and airy building is now open to visitors daily (with the exceptions of Thursdays and Sundays). I have always been an advocate of The Hub and am glad to see this space being revitalised.
The Doctor’s Surgery, Pharmacy and Theatre will hopefully be opening soon and I’m excited to find out what will be going into the retail units once they have been leased. Go and have a look and please do let me know what you think in the comments below?
An absolute gem! Elly opened Contain Yourself, a refill shop for home, laundry, personal care & food , just before lockdown in February 2020.
Elly’s goal when opening the shop was simple – to make shopping sustainably accessible to her local community and I think this is exactly what she has done. From coffee beans and cocoa powder to laundry detergent, pasta and flour plus so much more, Elly has managed to pack a lot into her super shop.
Customers are often pleasantly surprised with what good value using refills can be and with it being so much better for the environment too, I feel like it is a win-win option when it comes to shopping. Pop in to have a look for yourself too – Elly is full of knowledge on sustainability and is happy to advise on what small steps can be taken to do your bit for the environment too. Also look out for Elly’s gorgeous dog Clara who is often seen snuggled up in her special corner of the shop…
Arty Farty Retreat
Nell is an absolute joy to chat to and has created a wonderful space tucked away just down from the pharmacy in the heart of Southborough. Arty Farty Retreat is a creative, relaxing space to express yourself, meet others and learn new techniques.
Nell runs classes for children and adults as well as offering retreats, one-to-one expressive therapy, parties, children’s holiday workshops and women’s circles.
Arty Farty Retreat’s Mission is to provide an inspirational space, where anyone can create, regardless of ability, age or background and this is exactly what they have done. It has has become a big part of the Southborough Community. We are all creative in our own ways and having an outlet to explore it is fantastic. Feel free to pop in and chat to Nell about what sessions might suit you and your family most.
When I moved here, I was delighted to find out that Southborough has its own chocolate business offering parties, workshops and products. Temper Temper Chocolate is an amazing asset and is one of my go-to places for chocolately gifts which are made to order in advance online.
My children have been there for several birthday parties and I have enjoyed promoting their holiday workshops over the years which are always popular! I mean, who wouldn’t like spending a couple of hours making their own chocolate creations? You’ll also see Temper Temper Chocolate’s bespoke products in other local shops and cafes including Langton Pavilion Cafe and The Kings of Fine Food in Paddock Wood.
Southborough Common & Pennington Park
When we initally moved to Southborough, I had no idea that there were so many gorgeous walks across the Common and I didn’t know Pennington Park even existed. Fast forward ten years, three children and a global pandemic where we required to stay local, I can safely say I know the Southborough Common like the back of my hand!
Our favourite things to do are to wander down to Holden Pond to see the ducks, continue on to Modest Corner and into the woodland. There’s a stream at the bottom of the woodland which the kids can splash around in and then take ‘the giant’ steps back up to the area behind St Peter’s Church.
Pennington Park (officially called Pennington Grounds) is always going to be one of my favourite parks. The playground there gives you a 360 degree view so you can keep an eye on your kids fairly easily. There are loos (very important) as well as mini-golf, tennis courts, basketballs and outdoor gym equipment.
Nearby Rusbridge Bakery serves gorgeous pastries and Osborns next door has a coffee machine as well as ice lollies etc. which are perfect for a hot day. If you haven’t been to Pennington Park with your kids before, I recommend getting there pronto!
Running Hub & Kent Cricket Direct
These speciality shops are next door to each other and have been attracting out-of-towners as well as locals for many years now.
Running Hub has such an amazing array of trainers, suitable from complete beginners to professionals. They offer a gait analysis so that they can find the perfect pair for you. This can be done via appointment but drop-ins are welcome too. They also offer a custom insoles service too. I have always found them to be really accommodating and helpful and am not surprised they have had over 10 successful years in Southborough and continue to thrive.
Nextdoor to Runners Hub is Kent Cricket Direct. Up until recently I haven’t personally had a reason to visit a cricket store but now that my boys are becoming interested in the sport, I have a feeling it is somewhere I’ll be dropping into soon!
Kent Cricket Direct is one of very few cricket specialist shops across the South East and the team are renowned for their friendly services. They have an impressive range of cricket equipment as well as hockey sticks and paraphernalia too. Another example of a Southborough specialist shop which continues to thrive!
Plenty of my Southborough friends and neighbours rave about Pets Fayre, an independent shop which offers a range of products and services to keep your finned, feathered and furry pets happy and healthy.
Their popular pet grooming parlour gets lots of positive reviews – we always enjoy seeing the pups being pampered when we walk by. Pets Fayre also have pet sitting, boarding and dog walking services.
We have plans to get a puppy at some point in the next year or two, so no doubt I’ll be dropping in to find out what I need to get in preparation. Pets Fayre also operates as a local Terracycle collection point for your plastic pet food packaging.
Imli – Indian & Turkish Dining
Ooooh Imli! The owners of Imli have managed to turn this historical building into a successful Indian and Turkish restaurant for dining in and takeaways. They are a really family friendly restaurant and have a kids menu which my children enjoy.
Imli has a good setup with marquees at the moment for diners who would like to eat on site. During ‘normal’ times, their Sunday buffet is a popular option too, open every Sunday from 12 noon to 9pm with 25 dishes available.
Southborough Butchers continues to draw customers from all around Tunbridge Wells for their quality meats and friendly service. The friendly team always have useful advice to give to novice chefs (like me) and every time I visit, they seem to have an even greater selection of products.
More recently, I picked up some yummy fresh pies – a selection of meat, poultry and vegetarian and some preserves which they stock from other local businesses.
Southborough Butchers has been around for more than 15 years and no doubt they’ll be serving the people of Southborough for many more.
I hope you found this blog post useful? I have really enjoyed writing about Southborough and re-visiting some of my favourite businesses.
A special mention goes to the bespoke tailors, Hardman & Hemming as well as The House Company, Thomas Camera Services, Southborough Computer Centre and The Salon too. What an eclectic mix of places to discover.
If you are looking for other towns or villages to explore in our borough, why not check out my top 10 places to visit in Hawkhurst and 10 places to pop into in Paddock Wood? And if you have any more recommendations for Southborough, please do let me know in the comments below?