Kent, bordered to the north by London and to the south by sea and countryside, is popularly known as the Garden of England and not without good reason. Notwithstanding being a county through which one enters Britain by sea, Kent is famous for its orchards, hop gardens, country lanes and rolling countryside that is full of a variety of flowers, trees and hedgerows. Kent is full of contrasts, which gives it its charm. A key feature of Kent's countryside is the North Downs that arc across Kent as a long ridge of chalk from which amazing panoramic views can be taken over the valleys that stretch below. Kent was the first area of Britain conquered by Julius Caesar who in 55BC described the area as the most civilised part of Britain after having found Belgie tribes efficiently running the territory. Under Roman control Kent emerged as an important commercial and administrative centre.
After the Romans had left in the 5 th century, Kent became subject to many invasions and raids by Jutes, Saxons and Vikings. The legendary Jutes, Hengist and Horsa landed a Pegwell Bay in about 450 and battled their way through the countryside. These were the first battles in the centuries of warfare and power struggles that would follow for the control of England. St. Augustine arrived at Pegwell Bay in 597 AD with 40 monks on a mission from Rome to bring Christianity to pagan England, thus beginning the era of religious growth.
During its early history under the Saxons, Kent was divided into separate kingdoms until it was united under the Normans around 500 years later. So important was Kent to the defence or their new realm that the Normans strengthened existing defences and built new massive fortresses, notably at Dover and Rochester on the River Medway which is home to Rochester Castle and Cathedral. Under William I (The Conqueror) many Cathedrals where built such as those in Rochester and Canterbury, the latter becoming the leading Archbishopric in England in 1072. Down the centuries Kent became host to houses of many rich and famous people, including kings, poets and princes. By the 14thcentury Kent was the richest county in England and the pilgrimages to the shrines of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury inspired Chaucer to write his Canterbury Tales, elevating the importance of Canterbury and its magnificent Cathedral. Other famous writers, notably Christopher Marlowe, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen also resided and worked in Kent.
During the Middle Ages the Kent's and Sussex's Cinque Ports of Sandwich, Hythe, Dover, Romney and Hasting brought new prosperity to the area through maritime enterprises, especially through its cloth trade. Throughout its history, Kent has been in the front line of attack by England's enemies, from Julius Caesar to Hitler and as such has acquired a rich and varied culture and history, which can be explored on foot on the hundreds of miles of footpaths, by road or by train. The county's charming villages and towns, its beautiful countryside as well as its other numerous attractions makes Kent a wonderful place to visit and being only a few miles down the road from London it should not be missed by any visitor to the south of England.
Historical Places to visit in Kent: