Hawkhurst, Kent, Home of A Notorious Gang of Smugglers – Photo Tour Gallery.

Hawkhurst is a village and civil parish in the borough of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. The parish lies to the south-east of Tunbridge Wells.

Hawkhurst itself is virtually two villages—one, the older of the two, consisting mainly of cottages clustered around a large triangular green known as the Moor, and the other, further north on the main road, called Highgate. Each part has a different character. Highgate stands on a crossroads and is where the shops and hotels lie.

The village was the centre of the Wealden iron industry until the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th Century. William Penn, founder of the state of Pennsylvania, owned ironworks at Hawkhurst in the 17th century.

The Hawkhurst Gang
High taxation on luxury goods in the early 1700s led to an upsurge in smuggling, and Hawkhurst gave its name to one of the most notorious gangs of ruffians and smugglers. They terrorised the countryside: several of the local houses, including Hawkhurst Place, the Tudor Arms hotel, the Oak and Ivy pub and Tickners, claim associations with the gang. They were the kings of the trade, bringing brandy, silk and tobacco up from Rye to be stowed away in hidden cellars and passages before being sold off to the local gentry. The Battle of Goudhurst eventually brought their career to an end.

Hawkhurst celebrities
The 19th century astronomer Sir John Herschel (1792–1871) lived in Hawkhurst for thirty years.

Hawkhurst lays claim to be the birthplace of the Rootes car empire. It was here, in the village, that William Rootes set up shop as a cycle trader before ambition and opportunity conspired to take him and his two sons, William and Reginald, into the rather more lucrative production of Hillman, Humber and Sunbeam cars and so into English automobile history.

The opening of the largest country home of the Dr. Barnado organisation, named “Babies’ Castle” took place in 1886 by HRH Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck and her daughter Princess Mary, later George V’s Queen Mary. The home became an adult care centre in 1963, and was recently purchased by private developers to be turned into flats.

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