Our Eastern border and a tributary of the River Medway
The River Teise is a tributary of the River Medway, flowing from its spring sources in Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells in the High Weald, to join the Medway at Yalding in the Low Weald.
It flows eastwards through past Bayham Abbey on to Lamberhurst where it is joined by the River Bewl before heading north by Horsmonden and below Goudhurst before splitting south west of Marden, creating the Lesser and Greater Teise.
The Lesser Teise, the larger of the two watercourses, heads north via Collier Street, and joins the River Beult at Benover, before joining the River Medway.
The Greater Teise heads north, passing to the east of Paddock Wood before joining the Medway near Yalding, upstream of the Lesser Teise.
The underlying impervious Wadhurst clay adds to a high flood risk around the confluence of the Teise, Beult and Medway at Yalding and a significant number of properties are also at risk at Paddock Wood and Lamberhurst. Successive land drainage improvement schemes have widened, straightened and deepened the Teise, creating a modified and meandering channel with a wide flood plain of pasture, orchards and wooded land.
The Teise total catchment area is over 136km², of which Bewl Water Reservoir occupies 3%, villages and urban areas constitute 4% and woodland and arable land making up most of the remaining area. The catchment area includes 11 parishes with an estimated population of 25,000 living within it.
Two miles downstream of Lamberhurst and just South of Spelmonden, the Teise is joined by the River Bewl, where water from the Bewl Water reservoir flows from.
The Teise bifurcates (splits into two parts), 1¼ miles south east of Claygate and 1¼ miles south west of the village of Marden, passing either side of a low ridge.
The Lesser Teise flows for about 4 miles before joining the River Beult at Hunton.
The Greater Teise, now carrying only minor quantities of water, flows under Gaffords Bridge at the northern extremities of the parish, and then on for about 5 miles to the River Medway at Twyford Bridge, upstream of Yalding, formerly the site of a double ford over both the Medway and Teise rivers. It passes to the west of Laddingford on the way to Yalding.
Like many other rivers in southern England the River Teise was subject to a Land Drainage Improvement Scheme during the 1950s. The River Lesser Teise was widened, straightened and deepened from Horsmonden to the River Beult confluence. Hence it now carries much of the flow.
The Horsmonden section of the Greater Teise is upstream of where the Lesser Teise bifurcates, and the section downstream of Marden to its confluence with the River Medway was also ‘improved’. A number of weirs were built at the time of this work, and still exist today. They split the flows between channels and some are also gauging stations.
Some of the former meanders of the Lesser Teise can still be seen today within retained areas of woodland on the eastern border of the Parish. These provide a record of the natural character of the River Teise, as does the 4 km bifurcated section of the Greater Teise, which was left largely untouched.
Whilst this work effectively drained the land, it has hugely impoverished the ecology of the river, and of course led to a huge loss of floodplain habitat along its course. A significant cost to river wildlife and fishing for the sake of a relatively tiny area of agriculture.
Horsmonden Sewage Works sits beside the River Teise off Grovehurst Lane.
The river is mostly swift flowing over gravel, with streamy sections alternating with deeper pools. Good summer flows are maintained by water discharged from Bewl Bridge reservoir.
The Teise Anglers’ and Owners’ Association has fishing rights on six miles of the River Teise between Horsmonden and Marden. The society has existed since 1949 and its members enjoy fly fishing for wild and stocked trout in idyllic Kentish countryside.
The Society also introduced grayling to the river more than 20 years ago and there is now a flourishing population. In the winter months, members enjoy course fishing for chub, roach and other species on selected stretches. Some members have also reported catching the occasional sea trout. There is no reason why sea trout shouldn’t run up the river given the correct habitat and few barriers along the route from the sea.
The members have a keen interest in the river environment and have begun a series of small scale improvements including removal of Himalayan Balsam and bankside management. They also monitor invertebrate populations and the variation in flow levels, maintaining discussions with Southern water with the aim of improving the condition of the Teise.
The fishing season is from 3rd April to 31st October inclusive.
The river holds a surprisingly wide variety of fish species including bream which are more commonly associated with still waters, perhaps indicative of sluggish water caused by weirs and the lack of natural river features.
There are also many pike in the river and a 16lb fish was caught some years ago – a very big fish for such a small river! The river supports a small population of wild brown trout which breed independently of the fish stocked for angling in the river. They have existed in the river in some form for thousands of years and require clean water and good habitat to survive.
Whilst barn owl populations fluctuate, kingfishers are widespread and the characteristic steep banks provide the right conditions for their nesting habits. Recently there have been some records of otters returning to the river and water vole sightings – a sure sign the water quality and habitat conditions are improving.
Mink have also been spotted near the river and these present a danger to our native river wildlife, as do signal crayfish and invasive plants like Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed which require controlling.