Tricia Trend’s Goudhurst home is the perfect base from which to explore the beautiful countryside and forests that surround it – and what better place to stay than in a traditional Kentish oast!

How many times have you stayed in a beautiful holiday home and imagined yourself living there permanently? It’s something that many of us have thought about – and perhaps even gone as far as looking up the particulars, but it is a rare thing when stars collide and the dream can become a reality.
When Tricia Trend and her family came to stay in this fabulous five bedroomed twin oast house in Goudhurst they had no idea what fate had in store for them. They’d been thinking of buying a holiday property, but not an oast house, and anyway it wasn’t on the market. “We came to stay with our two children and we fell in love with the whole area,” explains Tricia. “This is on the Bedgebury Estate. You can walk – and there are cycle tracks – out to Bedgebury from here. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty and very peaceful, as we are far from the road.” It is indeed a very enviable location, overlooking the lake, surrounded by countryside with a fabulous view out to Bedgebury Manor and the Pinetum.

Determined to find something to make into a holiday home of their own, Tricia began to search around. “I started to look in the area, but nothing came up,” she recalls. Then – in that ‘is it chance or is it fate’ kind of way – she saw that the oast was available for sale. “We came to look in early January 2022, but the estate agent said it was already sold. As is often the case in the tricky field of property purchasing, when hopes are so often dashed, but occasionally reborn, it came back onto the market. And to cut a long story – and a nerve-wracking moment as the sale went to sealed bids – short: “We bought it in April 2022.”
They thought about moving from their home in Ascot, Berkshire and almost decided to live here in the oast permanently, but family life was very settled where they were living and it would have meant quite an upheaval. “The children were at the age where they want to stay at their schools and with friends,” Tricia explains, and so although it was very tempting, they were not ready to make the permanent move. Keeping the house as a holiday home was a sensible decision, especially as it was already set up to be let out – although they had to re-organise the accommodation from scratch, as all the furniture and fittings went when it changed hands.

“I have inherited the interior,” Tricia explains, “it was carried out by a designer for the previous owner. Most of the colours are either Farrow & Ball or Little Greene and luckily they left us all the names – very useful, as we have redecorated in some areas.”
Heritage buildings can be quirky – often owners feel more like curators and it can be hard to coax an old dwelling into a modern comfortable home. This is nineteenth century and like many Victorians, has a solid air. Although recently refurbished, it is an established conversion and has been a home for several families since then. It must be very interesting to own an oast house – they are such symbolic buildings and the Weald in particular has a large number, some dating back to the sixteenth century. Kent has the ideal soil and conditions for growing hops and had plenty of wood for the kilns, so the industry quickly grew and flourished here. The landscape is now famous for these wonderful buildings, although hop farming has declined and nearly all of them have been converted to other uses now.

The iconic round shape of a Kentish roundel oast is lovely to look at, but circular rooms are hard to furnish without spending a fortune. The oasts here are square with pyramidal roofs, rather than roundels, which is lucky – these have all the character, but are practical too. “My neighbour’s house has many more original features, there aren’t many left here,” says Tricia, “but we have lots of wonderful photographs of the original oast back in the hop drying days. This place was converted to a residential dwelling in 1983.”
“We are near the hop picker line – the trains that bought people in, mainly from East London, to pick hops in the summer. They were staying in pretty basic conditions I think, but then it was an escape from the city and a way to enjoy the countryside.”

Tricia has displayed some of the wonderful black and white photographs of the hop pickers at work – picking, drying, packing and storing the hops until they were ready to send out to the breweries. As we stand in the base of one of the oasts, in what is now the sitting room, it is hard to imagine that this was a semi-industrial space. “There would have been a kiln in here and the room would have been open to the rafters,” she explains. “The oast acts like a huge chimney.” Now though there are two floors above this room. The room does still have a fire, but it’s a clean and cosy wood burner with no need for a giant flue.
A wonderfully wide staircase leads up to the second floor and the main suite. This room boasts a dressing room and, up some more stairs within the room into the top below the cowl, there’s a spacious en suite – mezzanine-style – which means it has no door, so has its own private floor instead.

The next bedroom along is even larger than the main. It doesn’t have its own bathroom, but more than makes up for that with a balcony large enough to call itself a terrace, with an uninterrupted view out across the landscape to the lake and Bedgebury Pinetum.
The family bathroom is shared by another large bedroom – a twin room, while in the oast at the other end there is a family suite – a large double bedroom, bathroom and sweet little children’s room tucked into the roof space. The main bedroom in the second oast makes the most of the lofty pyramidal roof space and original beams.
“It makes dusting up into the rafters quite tricky,” smiles Tricia. “Luckily we have a great team of cleaners which gives me peace of mind. I try to use local suppliers wherever possible – down to the food gifts in the welcome basket from local farm shops.” Tricia’s background is in hotel management and she has much experience in front of house and so understands the attention to detail that’s needed to make a stay comfortable. “These little touches make all the difference I think,” she says.

The lake view – where the place gets its name – is clear from the bedrooms. As you look out, the only house that can be glimpsed in the distance through the trees is Bedgebury Manor. They are right next to the Pinetum and in an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. Bedgebury Pinetum was set up by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Forestry Commission back in 1924 as a pollution-free site for a large conifer collection. Today the 320 acres are a wonderful place to explore – there are great cycle tracks and bikes for hire, and Go Ape – a tree top adventure experience that’s a fantastic attraction for families.
“There’s so much to do around here,” Tricia says. “My son loves cycling, it’s ideal for children. There are cycle tracks out to Bedgebury from here which avoid the roads, it’s great to be so immersed in the countryside.’

The way the house is laid out means that it works really well for more than one family to stay, but still have their own space. “It’s perfect for celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries, you can fit several generations in comfortably and we have let it out for both Christmases since we’ve had it.”
Furnishing a large property like this is no mean feat. Luckily all the basics were in place and once minor repairs and a small amount of refreshing had been done they could focus on making the rooms comfortable. “I’ve always loved interior design and pottering around looking for things,” she says. “Whenever I stay somewhere I’m always turning over rugs and things to see where they’re from.”

Somehow choosing a scheme becomes easier when it’s not your own house, you’re not distracted by ephemera and existing pieces. They had a colour scheme to work to for each room, and most of the interior is decorated in restful pale blues, which tone in with the tranquil setting. This is a place of relaxation and Tricia was clear from the start that when people come away to stay somewhere, comfort is a priority. “I had stayed here so I knew that the beds were really comfortable. It was so important to get good mattresses – in fact people have asked where the mattresses came from. We got them from ’Tasha Interiors on the Goudhurst Road. They offer a really personal service and the mattresses are all British made.”

It can be tricky to make a large space feel cosy, but the underfloor heating in the bathrooms and kitchen help. The oast sitting room has a welcoming feel, there’s a snug at the other end of the house and although the open plan kitchen is huge, the magnificent Aga at one end brings a homely feel. “The Aga is on all the time,” explains Tricia, “but it stays cool in the summer as the downstairs is so airy. We can also open the windows here at this end and then get airflow and a cool breeze, so it’s not stuffy.

“We’ve had to pick furniture and things to fit in with the schemes, but sometimes quirky pieces really work. The oversized chair was bought for my own house, but when you buy things online it’s so hard to judge the scale of them. So when this arrived it was far too large, totally out of scale, but I knew exactly where it would fit here.”
Outside there’s a large and comfortable terrace surrounded by immaculate rose beds edged with nepeta and herbaceous perennials. A beautiful little summerhouse looks out over a large striped lawn and in the converted garage there’s a games room packed with all the entertainment that a teenager might need.

As we step outside from the serene, organised blues of the house interior into the greens of the landscape it’s easy to see how Tricia and her family fell in love with their holiday home. Horses graze in the next field and beyond them is the deep wooded calm of the Pinetum. There’s no traffic noise, no real hint of human activity – just the sound of birds singing and the rustle of the leaves in the trees. Tricia has given much thought and care to ensure that visitors to the oast are able to experience a relaxing slice of all this and enjoy a luxuriously comfortable stay in a fabulous icon of the Kent countryside.

To book a stay at Bedgebury Oast visit the Bloom Stays website

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether

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