The Garden of England

Kent is known as the Garden of England, and its wealth of farmers’ markets across the county confirm that it remains vital to feeding the rest of us. There are far too many farmers’ markets to list or review here, but their information is just a click away.

It is the central part of the county where you will find the oast houses and fields of hops that are the trademark of the county.  A visit to the Hop Farm Country Park between Paddock Wood and Tonbridge, will explain the use of the strange buildings and give you a history of hops and brewing in Kent.  There are plenty of attractions on this theme park to keep the children amused, whatever the weather.

Anyone on their way to the continent will fly through the county to the port at Dover for the ferry, but why not spend time in the town to discover much of our recent history.  You will need a full day to visit Dover Castle, not only home to the secret WW2 tunnels but also, above ground, an interesting collection of exhibitions showing the history of the area and the military.  This day out will appeal to all ages – just make sure you put aside enough time.

History buffs will find plenty more to please in the area around Dover.  Just along the coast is the site of the Battle of Hastings – 1066 and all that.  There is plenty to be discovered about this famous day, and if your holiday includes a trip to Bayeaux to see the tapestry, you really must stop and look at the area where it all happened.

Maintaining the link to the continent, no trip to Kent is complete without visiting at least one of the Cinque Ports.  There are 14 towns which comprise the Cinque Ports ranging from Hastings in the west to Margate in the East.  Each has its own character and is well worth a visit.

Don’t forget to take a good look at the northern coast of Kent, particularly around Chatham where a whole day can be spent at the Historic Dockyards.  The collection of military ships from past and present will amaze even the most reluctant of museum visitors.  There are interactive displays for the children, including a challenge to make their own rope in the way used by the Victorian sailors.

Kent is also home to the first ever aircraft factory, which was located on the Isle of Sheppey by the Shorts Brothers.  The connection with aviation goes right back to the early pioneers, when Bleriot landed at Dover having made the first flight over the Channel.  More recent events include the Battle of Britain which was fought mainly in the skies over Kent and the South East.  The Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge near Folkestone hosts the oldest collection of aircraft and memorabilia from the war.  Check opening times before planning your visit.  The museum closes during the winter months.

No-one should visit Kent without also visiting Canterbury Cathedral.  Again steeped in history this is the mother church of the Anglican community, and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  It has drawn pilgrims to its walls since its creation in the Middle Ages.  At intervals, visitors are asked to join in a short period of prayer and contemplation, wherever they may be within the Cathedral’s walls.  The Cathedral is stunning, invoking a feeling of awe and calm.  Again, don’t underestimate the time you will need to do justice to this place.

Shopping and history can be conveniently combined at the Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells.  Guided walks around the historic town are frequently available and will explain the reason for this Spa town to have evolved just where it is in the heart of the Weald.

The Tourist Information Centres across Kent will be able to help you to plan your visit to suit your personal tastes.  They also have a very helpful website.

Broadhembury Touring and Holiday Park makes an excellent venue to explore Kent and is convenient for the Channel Tunnel service to France.

Last updated on 13/11/2012 3:36pm by Sharon Eaons
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