Few can argue that Kent is among the most beautiful of the shire counties, parts of which have been considered to be of outstanding natural beauty. In fact there are areas of Kent that have been referred to as “the garden of England, because of its abundance of Orchards and Hop gardens.”
The earliest known reference to what is now known as Kent is the name given to it by Julius Caesar in 51 BC – ‘Cantium’. This is thought to mean ‘rim’ or ‘border’ although there is some conjecture as to whether this name derived from an earlier word through either a Celtic, or Latin line.
Caesar must have had a great deal of respect for the people of Kent/Cantium. Whilst writing in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico of the People of Britain and those of Kent in particular he noted;
“…by far the most civilised are those who inhabit Cantium, the whole of which is a maritime region; and their manners differ little from those of the Gauls”
Many, if not most counties in England, have their own motto and Kent is no exception. It’s motto is ‘Invicta’ meaning undefeated. The legend behind this is very interesting and displays a sense of pride by the Kentish people. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066 where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold, his men marched on London. They were intercepted in a village near Swanscombe by the men of Kent and led by Archbishops; Stigand and Egelsine. However, the men carried boughs giving the impression of moving trees and were able to sneak up on the Normans. The Kentishmen negotiated peace on the condition that William agreed to grant their ancient rights and liberties. Having already fought one bloody battle, at Hastings, William agreed to their demands. The following inscription was found on a plaque erected in 1958 in the grounds of St Peter and St Pauls in Swanscombe;
“Near this spot in the year 1067, by ancient tradition, the men of Kent and Kentishmen carrying boughs on their shoulders and swords in their hands met the invader William Duke of Normandy. They offered peace if he would grant their ancient rights and liberties, otherwise war and that most deadly. Their request was granted and from that day the motto of Kent has been ‘Invicta’ meaning unconquered”.
William went on to rule as the first Norman King of England until his death in 1087.
The county of Kent lies to the south east of England and is bordered by East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey, Essex, and Greater London.
One of Kent’s most important attributes in recent history is the opening of the channel tunnel, providing quick and easy access to Europe. Work started on the Channel tunnel in 1988, and was completed in 1994 providing an important link between the border town of Folkestone in Kent and Coquelles in Pas-De-Calais in France. It was built by TML (Transmanche Link) who worked from both ends simultaneously. The accuracy of the two teams was so precise that when they met in the middle, they were only a few centimetres out.
The county of Kent is divided up into 13 districts
4 Tonbridge and Malling
7 Tunbridge Wells
Main border towns: Folkstone, Dover, Ramsgate, Margate, and Herne Bay
Maidstone is the county town.
Kent is steeped in history going back to the Palaeolithic era. (100,000 years ago)
In Richborough near Sandwich there lies the ruins of a Roman Saxon castle, and It is believed that Richborough Castle is the site where the Romans first entered England in AD43.
Over the last 800 years, the county of Kent has been relied on to produce warships.
In the 12th-14th centuries the cinque ports of Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, Romney & Hythe, and Romney were heavily relied on to build ships for the country’s defence, and then again in the 16th-20th century at Chatham dockyard, built during the reign of Elizabeth 1 (1558-1603)
By 1667 the towns along the Medway had come under a series of attacks from the Dutch and French navy, which led to an increasing military build up, and the construction of forts along the coast, many of which still stand today; Dover Castle, Walmer Castle, Deal Castle, Whitstable Castle Fort, and Coalhouse Fort along the Thames at Tilbury.
During the wars with France, which continued throughout the 18th century, the Medway became the main base from which the British fleet could respond to threats from ships along the French and Dutch coasts.
The French revolution of 1798 sparked off an escalation of the wars with France, and during the Napoleonic wars (1803-1815) other European countries came under threat as well. This resulted in a coalition led by Britain to defeat the French. However, Napoleon had built up a massive army as a result of forced conscription, and continued to overrun much of Europe. His fortunes were short lived though, and ended disastrously when he invaded Russia in 1812, the time when Russia itself was in the middle of a revolution.
Kent’s close proximity to London has involved it in many conflicts particularly during the second world war when it was in the direct path of the bombers of the Luftwaffe heading for London.
Places to visit in Kent
Kingston road Walmer, Deal, Kent CT14 7LJ Phone +44 1304 364288.
A 16th century castle built by Henry viii (1539-1540)
Marine road, Deal, Kent CT14 7BA Phone +44 1304 372762
A 16th century castle built by Henry viii (1539-1540)
Castle hill, Dover, Kent CT16 1HU Phone +44 1304 211067
Built during the 12th century
Whitstable Castle Fort,
Tower hill, Whitstable, CT5 2BW Phone +44 1227 281726
Built in 1789 and was originally called Tankerton Tower.
Princess Margaret road, East Tilbury, Essex. RM18 8PB Phone +44 1375 844203
Built between 1861 & 1874
Lullingstone Roman Villa
Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford Kent DA4 0JA Phone +44 1322 863467
Built around AD 100
Charles Darwin Down house
Luxted road, Downe, Kent BR6 7JT Phone +44 1689 859119
Chilham Castle, Chilham
Canterbury, Kent CT4 8DB Phone +44 1227 733100
Built around 1174 AD
Eagle Heights, Wildlife Park
Lullingstone lane, Eynsford, Kent DA4 OJB
Phone +44 1322 866577
Capstone Farm Country Park
Gillingham, Medway, Kent ME7 3JG Phone +44 1634338191
Perhaps one of the most famous buildings, if not one of the most impressive, is Canterbury Cathedral. The original structure dates back to 597 AD but was rebuilt between 1070-1077. Since that time it has undergone many changes and has become one of the most beautiful structures of its kind. It was in this cathedral that Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170. With 1 million visitors a year it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in England.
For the visitor to Kent there is something for everybody, whether an archaeological site, an historical building or stunning views of lakes and parks etc. The list goes on, but whatever you do, do yourself a favour and make a turn there and enjoy all that this gorgeous county has to offer.