Kent is known as “The Garden of England” owing to its abundance of hop gardens, orchards, and even vineyards. Kent lies on the doorstep of Europe and so has been the staging point of many major invasions of British shores, including both world wars, and William of Normandy’s invasion in 1066.
Towns of interest include Biddenden, the birthplace of the Biddenden Maids who were Siamese twins joined at the hip and shoulder, Canterbury which is the home of Canterbury Cathedral and Gravesend on the River Thames, final resting place of American Princess Pocahontas. Kent is very close to London with a train ride from Canterbury requiring just two and a half hours.
Towns in Kent
Kent has some beautiful old towns and very interesting cities to visit. The coastal cities, in particular, offer some beautiful views of the British Channel, with France visible on clear days.
Canterbury is a grand old city with a lot to see and do. It has been in existence since before Roman times and is home to a wonderful array of attractions and sights, including Canterbury Cathedral, Marlowe Theatre, St Augustine’ Abbey and the Castles of Canterbury and Chilham.
There is excellent shopping here, with souvenir shops and restaurants galore, and wonderful photo opportunities in front of the city’s many historic sites.
This beautiful old coastal town is one of the most southerly points in England and is the home of the famous Dover-Calais ferry crossing. Dover is also the site of the famous white cliffs that are visible from France on a clear day.
With castles, museums and many attractions Dover is a wonderful place for those who like to explore with archaeological sites dating back to Roman and Saxon times.
Maidstone is the county town of Kent and was formed in 1974, once called the Municipal Borough of Maidstone. Maidstone has some wonderful points of interest including, but not limited to Leeds Castle, Maidstone Museum and Art Gallery, Kent Downs and the Archbishop’s Palace.
Shopping is an excellent here and there are strong transport links to London and the surrounding countryside.
Parks and Gardens
Kent is not called the garden of England for anything, boasting hundreds of hop gardens, vineyards, orchards and fine country estates.
Based in Cranbrook, Sissinghurst Castle has a unique history, serving time as a prison in the 1700s as well as being a home to the women’s land army. The extensive original buildings can still be viewed however they are in a ruined state.
Set in 450 acres, the castle is famed for its original gardens designed by Vita Sackville-West in the 1930s with her husband Harold Nicolson. The gardens are renowned for their dazzling spring displays of wildflowers. View the website here: Sissinghurst Castle
At only four acres, this particular garden is more of an arboretum although there is a rose garden near to the Victorian house. It is, however, a very scenic garden with displays of azaleas, daffodils, and bluebells all accompanied by many varieties of trees and shrubs.
Another wonderful aspect of this beautiful little garden is the enclosed rock garden and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. View the website here: Emmet’s Garden
Owl House Gardens
Owl House Gardens in its modern form was created by the Lady Dufferin, with large lawns and beautiful woodland walks through old beech, birch, and English oak trees.
Originally the sunken water gardens, now banked by various bushes and shrubs, were hammer ponds used by the ironworks once in operation here. View the website here: Owl House Gardens
Attractions and Places to See
Kent is full of wonderful attractions, archaeological sites, beautiful gardens and many outdoor pursuits making it a popular destination for tourists all year round.
Dover Castle is one of the most important European forts, and one of the most impressive. It’s very defensive position on the coast of England, facing out to mainland Europe meant it was dubbed by invading armies as “the key to England”.
Features still intact to this day include Henry II’s Great Tower, medieval tunnels, the outer bastions as well as the castle’s towers. View the website here: Dover Castle
Based in Fawkham, Brands Hatch is one of the premier formula one racing circuits in the world, as graced by such legends as Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, and Ayrton Senna. Brands Hatch offers multiple driving experiences for people of all ages including,
but not limited to BMW Driving Experience days, MSV Driving Experience days as well as the renowned Young Drive driving lesson. Visit the website here: Brands Hatch
The Hop Farm Family Park
Almost 500 years old the farm itself has only had four different owners. It is easily one of the most famous features of Kent and was once owned by the famous Whitbread brewing company. In its modern-day incarnation, it offers events and attractions for the whole family, including the giant jumping pillows, the magic castle and its 4D cinema. View the website here: The Hop Farm Family Park
Things to Do
Kent has a wide variety of outdoor pursuits and leisure activities for all to enjoy. Here are just a few of them.
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest
Bedgebury belongs to the forestry department of the UK government and is also designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Popular activities here include geocaching, cycling, and horse riding and walking.
This particular forest boasts the world’s best collection of conifers and is a simply stunning place to go for walks, no matter the season. Their website is available here: Bedgebury Forest
Tonbridge Swimming Centre
Tonbridge Swimming Centre is a swimming pool and spa in Tonbridge, Kent. With junior activities including Splash Around, Mini Splash and the parent and toddler fun sessions as well as a relaxing spa and great water features like the mini obstacle course there is something for everyone here.
There is also the Games Hut which is situated only a 5-minute walk from the pool and is ideal for teenagers and up. Visit the website here: Tonbridge Swimming Centre
This cathedral dates back to the year 600AD and is a real treat for lovers of churches and ancient architecture. There is a beautiful old Norman nave and Crypt as well as having a wonderful Romanesque facade.
Visitors to the cathedral should also look out for a smattering of gothic styles such as the chapter library door dating back to the 14th century. Visit the website here: Rochester Cathedral
Afternoon Tea Ideas in Kent
Afternoon tea is enjoyed in Kent as much as it is anywhere else in England, and some of the finest tea rooms and hotels are to be found in the garden county.
Rowhill Grange – Dartford
Rowhill Grange is set deep in the heart of the Kent countryside nestling amid bushes and shrubs and surrounded by a wonderful garden.
Afternoon tea at this stunning old manor house consists of home-baked scones with clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches, and a fantastic selection of homemade pastries and cakes. Visit the website here: Rowhill Grange
Wallett’s Court Hotel – Westcliffe
In a tiny hamlet deep in the garden of England stands an ancient manor full of Jacobean character and 15th-century charm. Westcliffe is home to Wallett’s Court Hotel and its wonderful afternoon tea.
Cream cheese, ham, and mustard, beef, and horseradish as well as salmon and cucumber finger sandwiches, plus scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, can all be washed down with a steaming hot cup of fine blend English tea. Visit the website here: Walletts Court Hotel
The Marquis at Alkham
The Marquis at Alkham is in an ideal position for visitors wishing to explore Dover Castle and the nearby white cliffs. With a five star rating, the delectable menu offers a fine selection of finger sandwiches including duck egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, as well as a fantastic selection of desserts and fruit scones with the traditional strawberry preserve and clotted cream.
To deal with this wonderful feast of English delights, visitors can choose either tea or coffee or even a sparkling wine or champagne from the specialty wine menu. View the website here: The Marquis at Alkham
Wedding Venues in Kent
Kent offers some of the most beautiful venues for weddings in Britain.
Lympne Castle – Lympne
Lympne Castle was built in the 13th century and sits proudly atop a hill overlooking the Romney Marshes.
Beautiful flower gardens and perfect pathways surround this stunning old building and provide the backdrop to very romantic weddings. View the website here: Lympne Castle
Yew Lodge Country House – East Grinstead
Yew Lodge Country House is situated right on the border between West Sussex and Kent. Sitting snugly in 10 acres of dreamy sun-kissed gardens, it is the perfect location for a romantic, never to be forgotten wedding.
Owing to its beautiful gardens, photographic opportunities are at a premium and with 14 en-suite bedrooms and plenty of private parking the Yew Lodge is a top destination for soon-to-be newlyweds.
Campsites / Caravans:
Kent has some fantastic camping and caravan locations with choices of forests, lakes, and parks at a premium.
Caravan Club Sites
• Bearsted, Ashford Road, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent
• Black Horse Farm, 385 Canterbury Road, Densole, Folkestone, Kent
• The Crown, The Street, Finglesham, Deal, Kent
• Coldblow Farm, Coldblow Lane, Thurnham, Maidstone, Kent
• Thriftwood Holiday Park, Plaxdale Green Road, Stansted, Sevenoaks, Kent
• Allhallows Haven Leisure Park, Allhallows on Sea, Allhallows, Rochester, Kent