The parish of Orlestone, based on the village of Hamstreet, lies six miles south of Ashford, seven miles east of Tenterden and seven miles north-west of New Romney.
The village centre is an attractive protected Conservation Area and the village itself is surrounded by open countryside and woodland areas, some of which are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve. These areas are rich in flora and fauna and also host the start of the Greensand Way as well as many other walks.
Parts of the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Orlestone date back to the 11th century. Until the coming of the railway in 1853, Hamstreet was just a hamlet known as ‘Ham’ based around the village centre which contains many buildings in the traditional Kentish weatherboard style. The village expanded rapidly during the 20th century and had its moment of fame in 1991, when maps of Hamstreet at various stages in history were used on a series of postage stamps to mark 200 years of the Ordnance Survey – this chance arose because the Hamstreet area was the first to be mapped in this way. An episode of BBC TV’s Countryfile was also devoted to the occasion. The village also featured in a mountaineering spoof in Blue Peter to raise money for charity.
Although from the 1970s onwards there has been a loss of some traditional village outlets, there are still a number of shops and places to eat and drink in the village, as well as a school, doctor’s surgery, dental clinic and sports facilities. The village is twinned with the village of Thérouanne in northern France.