Tenterden is a town with a large conservation area in the Ashford District of Kent, England. It stands slightly proud at its centre on the edge of the remnant forest The Weald, overlooking the valley of the River Rother. It was one of the Cinque Ports. Its riverside today is not navigable to large vessels and its status as a wool manufacturing centre has been lost. Tenterden has several voluntary organisations, some of which are listed below, seven large or very old public houses within its area and has long distance walking and cycling routes within its boundaries.
The town's name is derived from the Old English "Tenet Waraden", meaning a den or forest clearing in the forest which belonged to the men of Thanet.
The first record of dwellings in Tenterden can be found in a charter which mentions that it, as 'Heronden', began to grow from the 14th century around the strong local wool industry. Unlike other such centres in the Weald it had the advantage of access to the sea. Much of what is now Romney Marsh was under water, and ships docked at nearby Smallhythe. Timber from the Wealden forests was used to construct ships, and in 1449 Tenterden was incorporated into the Confederation of Cinque Ports as a limb of Rye. Ships built in the town were then used to help Rye fulfil its quota for the Crown.
A school was in existence here in 1521; later (in 1666) it was referred to as a grammar school. Today Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, a large secondary school catering for the Weald and south of Ashford Borough is in Tenterden.
In 1903, Tenterden Town railway station was opened. It closed in 1954, but half of it reopened in 1974 as the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The route starts at Tenterden Town Station and finishes at Bodiam station, near Bodiam Castle. The main line track is being extended to Robertsbridge (near Hastings) in East Sussex.