Published in the Daily Express 4th August 2023

IT’S ALL WOOD: Orchard Yard blends traditional Kent designs with modern technology.

By Deborah Stone

Access to a garden and the countryside are two of the most important criteria for downsizers, especially if a property includes landscaped communal gardens that are looked after by professionals. At Cognatum’s latest over-55s’ development, Orchard Yard, the gardener even holds patio pot planting workshops for residents and locals, so they can get the best out of their private gardens and balconies.

Orchard Yard is a small development of 15 contemporary homes built in the farmyard of 15th century Wingham Court, a Grade II listed manor house on the edge of Wingham, near Canterbury in east Kent.

Earlier this year Wingham was named among the top 10 villages in Kent to live in, by regulated property buyers The village is on the A257 between Canterbury and Sandwich, on the River Stour, which is just a few miles from the sea and home to The Royal St George’s Golf Club.

When the Domesday Book was written in 1086 the manor of Wingham was owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, although it dates back to pre-Roman times.

The village has nearly 100 listed buildings including The Old Canonry dating from 1286, and it’s also known for gastropub The Dog At Wingham, a 13th century pub only a few minutes’ walk from Orchard Yard. Highly regarded Gibson’s Farm Shop is just over a mile away.

The homes at Orchard Yard are built in an “agricultural vernacular” design – apartments have a barn-like appearance featuring barn gates and blackened wood cladding, which is a modern take on the traditional Kent style.

The houses have a more contemporary all-wood exterior. All offer 21st century “smart living” with good insulation to ensure energy efficiency, hard-wired internet connections and Delta Dore smart technology for remote control of the internal environment, home security and warning systems.

There’s even adequate space and structural provision for the future addition of a lift and wiring for a car charger.

As for outdoor space, each property has a private garden or balcony, with access to landscaped communal grounds which include an orchard, green house and vegetable beds for residents.

Orchard Yard also has a clubhouse with a room for fitness classes and social gatherings, a barbecue terrace and firepit and a guest lodge for visitors.

The development has four styles of property including three-bedroom and three-bathroom Signac and Morisot houses. Five are still available from £725,500. There is one two-bedroom, two-bathroom Moret apartment still available, at £655,000, but all the Vivin apartments are sold out except a penthouse with high vaulted ceilings, a private balcony and gardens, at £762,500 (01227 456645;

Orchard Yard has a show home to view and anybody interested in its second pot planting workshop, on September 28, should get in touch. Tickets cost £10 for plants and compost, although you need to take your own pot. The workshop features expert instruction from gardener Chris Jacques.

All proceeds will go to the Wingham defibrillator appeal.

For more information:
01491 821170 /

Cognatum, a not-for-profit company, has 60 retirement estates in 21 counties across central and southern England, a total of 928 retirement homes. All are in prime locations within vibrant market towns or villages, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Each estate benefits from thoughtful architecture, landscaped grounds, and a dedicated estate manager.