The Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake Visitor Centre and Café
Cobtree Manor Park
Once the tea and coffee, soft drinks and burgers and the sandwiches were all served from a wooden hut and drunk and eaten on picnic benches outside. No worry about muddy boots or muddy dogs and on good days it was a pleasure.
But when it was damp or there was a cool wind blowing, it was less than relaxing after the climb over the North Downs from Rochester and there was still an hours walk to Maidstone along the Medway River.
Now there is a ‘posh’ new visitors centre and café serving all sorts of treats from things on toast to soup and chilli and when wet, space to sit inside but ‘wipe your feet first’.
It is a good café for dry days and days when children play on the magnificent fort or follow the trails through the park but for muddy walkers it may still be the picnic tables outside!
Cobtree Manor was once the home of Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake (1881-1964), twelve times Mayor of Maidstone and also a High Sheriff of Kent. The estate housed his private zoo, the largest in the country, and included lions and tigers and bears and elephants. On his death, he bequeathed the estate for the benefit of the people of Maidstone of which part has evolved into the Country Park.
If you do catch a glimpse of a lion or a tiger, don’t worry, it’s carved from wood.
Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – the long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey and Hastings Castle inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066. The Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake Visitor Centre and Café will be No 40 in Beer Notes