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Kent – The Garden of England’s Finest Historic and Cultural Gems

Nestled in the southeast corner of England, the picturesque county of Kent is a veritable treasure trove of historic and cultural delights. From the towering White Cliffs of Dover to the serene and tranquil Kentish Weald, this quintessentially English region, dubbed the “Garden of England”, offers a wealth of captivating sights and experiences for the discerning visitor.

A large imposing castle built of stone on top of a cliff
Dover Castle

One of Kent’s most iconic and instantly recognisable landmarks is the magnificent Dover Castle. Perched dramatically atop the famous White Cliffs, this mighty Norman fortress dates back to the 11th century and has played a pivotal role in the defence of Britain throughout its long and illustrious history.

Visitors can explore the labyrinthine network of secret wartime tunnels deep beneath the castle, marvel at the grand state apartments, and imagine the clatter of hooves and clash of steel as they wander the ancient battlements.

Just a stone’s throw away lies the Battle of Britain Memorial, a poignant tribute to the courageous pilots who defended the skies of Britain during the pivotal summer of 1940.

Ramsgate Harbour

Further along the rugged Kent coastline lies the historic town of Ramsgate, home to the stunning Ramsgate Royal Harbour. This picturesque harbour, the only Royal harbour in the United Kingdom, dates back to the 18th century and was a hub of maritime activity during the Napoleonic Wars. Today, visitors can stroll along the charming marina, admiring the elegant Georgian architecture and sampling the local seafood in the quaint pubs and eateries.

Inland, the rolling hills of the Kentish Weald offer a wealth of cultural and historic gems. In the charming village of Chiddingstone, the eponymous Chiddingstone castle stands as a stunning example of Tudor architecture, with its turreted walls and half-timbered facades housing an eclectic mix of treasures from around the world. The nearby Penshurst Place is another architectural marvel, boasting a magnificent 14th century manor house set amidst beautifully manicured formal gardens.

For those with an interest in ecclesiastical history, Kent is home to a wealth of magnificent cathedrals and historic churches. The towering Canterbury Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit, its soaring Gothic architecture and rich history captivating all who step through its grand portals. In the charming town of Rochester, the Rochester Cathedral stands as one of the oldest cathedrals in England, its Norman and Gothic features a testament to its long and storied past.

Away from the cathedrals and castles, Kent also boasts a rich tapestry of cultural attractions that celebrate the county’s unique heritage and traditions. In the historic town of Faversham, the Shepherd Neame Brewery offers a fascinating insight into the art of traditional British brewing, with guided tours and tastings allowing visitors to sample the fruits of their labour.

Kingsgate Castle on the cliffs above Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs. The castle is now a group of private residences.

For those with a penchant for the literary arts, the Dickens House Museum celebrates Charles Dickens’ long connection with Broadstairs (1837-1851). It is housed in the cottage that was Dickens’ inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield. Visitors will see items that once belonged to Dickens, including letters written about Broadstairs, his writing box and mahogany sideboard, and a fine collection of prints by H K Browne (Phiz), one of Dickens’ principal illustrators.

Kent’s rich agricultural heritage is celebrated at the Kent and East Sussex Railway, a heritage steam railway that winds its way through the idyllic Kentish countryside, affording passengers stunning vistas of hop gardens, orchards, and verdant meadows. For a more hands-on experience, the Brogdale Collections in Faversham invites visitors to explore the world’s largest collection of apple, pear, and cherry varieties, with guided tours and tastings showcasing the county’s fruitful bounty.

Further along the coast, the historic town of Deal boasts a wealth of well-preserved Georgian architecture and a charming Pier that offers stunning views across the English Channel.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst, National Trust

For those seeking a more active pursuit, Kent’s abundant natural beauty provides ample opportunities for outdoor adventure. The White Cliffs of Dover offer breathtaking coastal walks, while the serene Sissinghurst Castle Garden, created by acclaimed authors Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, is a horticultural masterpiece that enchants visitors with its meticulously tended flower beds and tranquil hidden corners.

Whether you’re drawn to Kent’s rich military history, its stunning architectural gems, or its captivating literary and cultural heritage, this remarkable county offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences for the discerning traveller. From the dramatic White Cliffs of Dover to the idyllic Kentish Weald, every corner of this enchanting region promises to delight and inspire, making it a truly essential destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the very best of England’s historic and cultural treasures.

About the author

Having worked across the heritage and tourism sector for over 10 years, Monty Beaumont is an expert when it comes to discovering new places to visit and great days out for the whole family. 

He has previously worked for the National Trust as a General Manager in Cornwall, coordinated the complex operations of running a castle in Devon and the mastered the intricacies of providing exceptional hospitality and service at some of the finest historic houses in the UK. 

As part of his vision and drive for Monty’s Guide, Monty travels across the country to find new places to visit and explore, and sharing his finding on, which is used by 1,000s of people each week to find their next great day out.

His experience and knowledge of the historic and cultural sector gives him a unique insight into the elements that make tourism and learning so important in our quest to understanding more about our heritage.

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