It was back in 2019 when my husband and I stayed in Kent and decided to find all the locations that we could from the original TV series The Darling Buds of May, starring David Jason, Pam Ferris, Catherine Zeta Jones and Philip Franks. This is going to be a photo-heavy blog post but, if you’re interested to find out where some of the filming locations are (if you want to visit for yourself!) then read on..!
As a 90s kid, I grew up watching the TV show on Sunday evenings, and my husband and I still rewatch the whole series ever year in May and it remains our favourite TV show ever, so you can imagine how exciting it was for me to see all the locations in real life.
The most exciting part was that we were able to stay on the farm itself. The farm is called Buss Farm, also sign-posted as Darling Buds Farm, and is in Bethersden, Kent. At the time of our vist, some of the farm buildings, including the barn and farm house, were being renting out as holiday lets. However, many of the buildings were for sale when we stayed there and at the moment I think that only one of the properties remains available to let.
But we got super-lucky and were able to stay in the annex of the farm house – what would’ve been the billiard room in the TV show. And that also meant that we had access to all the walks around the Grade II listed farm and could see all the outbuildings up-close.
The whole farm complex is gated and locked, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to see much if you went there for a quick peek – but you may well be able to still book one of the buildings on the plot (I’ve seen that the Cart Lodge opposite the farmhouse is available to rent online) and I’d definitely recommend booking to stay there if you can!
The nearby village of Pluckley provided the centre of village life for The Darling Buds of May so you’ll probably recognise the village centre from the TV show, and it provides plenty of famous locations for you to photograph while you’re there.
Starting at the pub in the centre of Pluckley, The Black Horse is the location for many scenes, including the exterior (renamed The Hare and Hounds) and the interior inglenook fireplace, where Pop shares a drink with Edith Pilchester while eavesdropping on the Jerebohm’s conversation about their house hunting trip to Kent.
While you’re in the town centre, there’s the village Post Office and Butchers, which appear in the background of a number of village life scenes.
To the right of the pub, as you’re facing it, is the route towards the church. This alley was where Celia Imrie as Corrine Perigo rode a horse past the Larkins as part of the local hunt. Walking up this back road takes you to the church where Mariette and Charley were married.
St Nicholas is a 13th century church with a 15th century extension. The church yard was the location of many of Primrose’s attempts to seduce Reverend Candy, the town’s new youthful vicar.
If you walk through the church yard and out of the opposite end, you’ll be nearing the corner of the road where Sir George and Lady Bluff-Gore’s gate cottage is located. I think it’s the corner between Station Road and The Street, but you can’t miss it when you’re there.
Walking back from here toward toward the village centre and you’ll see the Brigadier’s house Fig Tree Cottage on the left, directly opposite the churchyard.
Next you’ll pass Edith Pilchester’s home, Church Gate Cottage, on the right. Played by Rachel Bell, Edith is one of my favourite characters so I was very excited to see her cottage and garden. It’s tucked away behind a brick wall, so it’s easy to miss it – if you’ve got back to the pub, you’ve gone too far.
On the opposite side of the road is Pluckley Primary School, which was used as the exterior of the village hall in the show – you can see the committee emerging from the front of the building when the Larkins whizz through the village on their first drive in the Rolls Royce.
Leaving Pluckley, there are some more locations nearby within driving distance. The first is the cricket ground where the Pop, Charley and Montgomery play cricket while Angela Snow sells the countryside dream to Pinkie Jerebohm. It’s located down Ram Lane, at Little Chart Cricket Club.
Next is Charing train station, which is where Mariette and Ma go on trip to London when shopping for a wedding dress.
Another lovely location to visit – and to take a trip on – is the vintage railway at Tenterden. This is the station where Charley arrives when first visiting the Larkins. The Kent and East Sussex railway still runs steam engines and will take you all the way to Bodium Castle through the Kent countryside.
My husband and I are big fans of steam railways so we always try to incorporate s trip on train wherever we go. This was a lovely day out in Kent, whether you’re a fan of the TV show or not!
Although it’s not actually a filming location, if you want to see a hop garden like the one Charley and Mariette buy from Mrs Kinthley, there’s a lovely set-up at Kent Life. The original filming location is Halden Place in Halden Lane, Cranbrook but we didn’t see it while we were there.
There’s lots of oast houses, traditional buildings and plenty of animals to see while you’re at Kent Live but, most exciting of all, they have Ma Larkin’s kitchen! I can’t be sure if it’s still open to the public, but if you call ahead, you may be able to get a sneak peek inside the kitchen. I was so excited to be standing in The Darling Buds of May kitchen after seeing it on screen for so many years.
And finally, if you’re in Kent, why not visit Folkestone, where many scenes were filmed on the beach, with Leas Lift funicular railway up the side of the cliffs.
The new version The Larkins starts on 10th October and I’m hoping that some of the locations will remain the same – or at least it’ll mean that I have many more locations to scope out in the future. Let me know if you have a go at searching for any of these locations yourself and I’d love to see your photos too!