Historic Kent Guide
by Ben Johnson
Welcome to Kent, the ‘Garden of England’, so called because of its acres of orchards and hop gardens. The iconic Kent oast houses which dot the landscape are historically where the hops were dried, ready for the brewing process.
Kent is home to some of the nation’s most stunning historic castles. Leeds Castle, with its glorious grounds and moat, has been dubbed ‘the loveliest castle in the world’. Romantic double-moated Hever Castle boasts over 125 acres of stunning gardens and was the childhome home of Henry VIII‘s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
This beautiful county is also home to some of England’s most outstanding gardens, including those at Sissinghurst, Penshurst Place and Brogdale, home to the National Fruit Collections, where you can enjoy orchard tours and fruit juice tastings.
‘Dubris’ (Dover) was one of the most important sites in Roman Britain. Today you can visit the Roman Painted House, and the remains of a Roman lighthouse can be seen within the grounds of Dover Castle. Dover Castle played a major part in the history of the nation from Norman times through to World War Two, and is described as the “Key to England”.
Canterbury and its Cathedral have been attracting pilgrims for centuries. The pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales followed the Pilgrims Way to Canterbury to worship at the tomb of the murdered Archbishop, Thomas Becket, in the Cathedral. In the 6th century St Augustine founded a monastery near here, effectively kick-starting the Christian revival in southern England. The monastery ruins form part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site.
It was on the Kent coast in 55BC that Julius Caesar first set foot in Britain. The county boasts many Roman sites, including Richborough Roman Fort near Sandwich and Lullingstone Roman Villa with its fantastic mosaics and paintings.
As for local food and drink, Kent is famous for its beer, ale, cider – and wine! The vineyards of Kent produce award winning wines, and most offer winery tours for visitors.
Apples, cherries, pears and other fruit abound in the orchards of Kent. Kentish Apple Cake is delicious and often flavoured with cider. Kentish Cobnut Cake is another regional delight, made from Kentish ‘cobs’, a type of hazlenut. And at tea time try a Kentish huffkin, an flat oval cake with a hole in the middle made by the baker’s thumb. They can be eaten toasted with butter or the hole can be filled with cherries or jam, and topped with cream.