Original article from Kent Live
Groombridge sits directly between the two counties, with Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough located on either side.
The northern part of the village, ‘Old Groombridge’, was built first and forms part of the district of Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent, but ‘New Groombridge’, the larger half of the village, is in the Wealden district of East Sussex.
The two sides are bisected by the River Grom which officially marks the county border, but here at KentLive, we were keen to hear from the villagers themselves about which county their allegiance lies with.
We spoke to Groombridge residents to see whether Kent or Sussex won the battle.
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Sarah Butler, a writer, said: "I think it belongs to both. I live on the Sussex side, and I’m very clear I live in Sussex, but I grew up in Kent so I’ve quite literally stepped over the border."
As an active member of the green party, Sarah said she is very aware of where the border lies when it comes to elections.
The divide also posed a problem when she was looking at schools for her children, as the catchment area of many Kent schools do not extend to children from Sussex.
But Sarah added: "In daily life we’re not particularly affected by where the boundary is, it’s purely administrative stuff."
However, Gemma Meyers, who has lived in the village her whole life, begged to differ.
She said: "Personally I’ve felt that Groombridge was more a part of Kent than East Sussex, even though I live in the East Sussex half.
"I think it’s because most of the time that I spent outside of Groombridge was usually somewhere in Kent, such as Tonbridge Wells to go shopping, Tonbridge for school or just visiting friends.
"Also, Groombridge Place is just about on the Kent side and so as that’s pretty much our most known landmark, it seems to base our village in Kent along with it."
Despite living across the border in Sussex, Gemma said her postcode is a Kent one, which adds to the confusion.
Most Groombridge residents don’t appear to have particularly strong feelings towards either county however, and find the border divide more of a nuisance than anything.
Izzy Colman, who works at the village bakery and The Junction Inn said: "It’s really weird because I live two minutes from the Kent border sign, so although we’re in Sussex a lot of people think we’re in Kent – it all gets very confusing."
The local businesses however, embrace customers from both sides of the border.
Samantha from Groombridge Farm Shop said: "We are in the Kent side of Groombridge but have customers from the Sussex side too – we feel a part of both counties."
Whilst the divide is normally nothing more than an interesting piece of trivia, it caused problems recently when coronavirus restrictions put Kent into a higher tier than Sussex, leaving one half of the village with their freedom and forcing the other half into a lockdown.
But the villagers haven’t held it against each other – in fact they seem quite proud of the unison between the two counties.
In the centre of the village a sign featuring the shields of both Kent and Sussex depicts the Saxon Gromen men, from whom the village name derives, joining hands over the river – uniting the old Kent settlement with the new one in Sussex.