A county more full of history than any other, Kent lies at the southeasternmost point of Britain, and closest to Europe. The famous White Cliffs look out over the Straits of Dover, just 22 miles from the French coast. Kent is therefore the land which has greeted visitors for millennia, whether in war or in peace.
Kent’s name is also the oldest. It derives from the Cantii, an ancient British tribe known to the Romans long before Caesar. Kent was a British kingdom before the Romans came and after them it soon became a Jutish kingdom.
The county is known as the “Garden of England” for the richness and variety of its arable farming. Hop growing has been the traditional major agriculture of Kent, as the oast houses found throughout the county testify. In contrast, there was once coal mining in the east of the county.
The northwest of Kent, from Lewisham and Greenwich out to Bromley, is part of the Metropolitan conurbation, containing a great variety of townscapes. Within this area is Greenwich, home of the Greenwich observatory, the crosshairs of whose telescope define the prime meridian of the world. Until recently Greenwich was the home of the Royal Naval College (still a magnificent building) and its naval heritage is strong.
Rural Kent holds a great variety of landscape, from the North Downs, to the delightful Weald, down to the fertile solitudes of Romney, Denge, and Walland Marshes stretching inland from the south coast, and the Isle of Thanet in the northeast. Kent has numerous noteworthy castles, and more modern defensive works along the coast facing Europe.
The Cathedral City of Canterbury, whose name means ‘town of the men of Kent’ is where St Augustine established himself in 597, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of All England.
County Town: Maidstone
Main Towns: Bromley, Canterbury, Chatham, Dover, Folkestone, Greenwich, Lewisham, Maidstone, Orpington, Ramsgate, Rochester, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Whitstable, Woolwich.
Main Rivers: Darent, Medway, Great Stour, Little Stour.
Highlights: Walmer Castle; Knole county house; Royal Greenwich Observatory; Ighton Mote; White Cliffs of
Dover; Romney Marsh.
Highest Point: Betsoms Hill, 823 feet.
Area: 1,555 sq miles
County Flower: Hop