Towns in Kent
Sutton at Hone
Isle of Grain
TN9 TN10 TN11
ME1 ME4 ME5
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Isle of Sheppey
Minster on Sea
Birchington on sea
Broadstairs and St Peter’s
TN1 TN2 TN3
ME9 ME10 ME12
CT1, CT2, CT5, CT6
CT8 CT9 CT11
CT14 CT16 CT17
Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north west, Surrey to the west, East Sussex to the south west, and across the Thames Estuary is the county of Essex. The county town is Maidstone.
Canterbury Cathedral has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, since the conversion of England to Christianity by Saint Augustine in the 6th century.
Between London and the Strait of Dover, which separates it from mainland Europe, The area has seen both diplomacy and conflict, ranging from the Leeds Castle peace talks of 1978 and 2004 to the Battle of Britain in World War II.
England relied on the county’s ports to provide warships through much of its history; the Cinque Ports in the 12th–14th centuries and Chatham Dockyard in the 16th–20th centuries were of particular importance. France can be seen clearly in fine weather from Folkestone and the White Cliffs of Dover. Hills in the form of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge span the length of the county and in the series of valleys in between and to the south are most of the county’s 26 castles.
Because of its relative abundance of fruit-growing and hop gardens, Kent is known as “The Garden of England”. The title was defended in 2006 when a survey of beautiful counties by the UKTV Style Gardens channel put Kent in fifth place, behind North Yorkshire, Devon, Derbyshire and Gloucestershire.
The economy is greatly diversified. Haulage, logistics and tourism are major industries throughout the county; major industries in north-west of the county include aggregate building materials, printing and scientific research. Coal mining has also played its part in Kent’s industrial heritage. Large parts of Kent are within the London commuter belt and its strong transport connections to the capital and the nearby continent makes Kent a high income county. Twenty-eight per cent of the county forms part of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the North Downs and The Weald.
The area has been occupied since the Palaeolithic era, as attested by finds from the quarries at Swanscombe. The Medway megaliths were built during the Neolithic era. There is a rich sequence of Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman era occupation, as indicated by finds and features such as the Ringlemere gold cup and the Roman villas of the Darent valley.
The modern name of Kent is derived from the Brythonic word Cantus meaning “rim” or “border”. This describes the eastern part of the current county area as a border land or coastal district. Julius Caesar had described the area as Cantium, or home of the Cantiaci in 51 BC. The extreme west of the modern county was by the time of Roman Britain occupied by Iron Age tribes, known as the Regnenses.
East Kent became a kingdom of the Jutes during the 5th century and was known as Cantia from about 730 and recorded as Cent in 835. The early medieval inhabitants of the county were known as the Cantwara, or Kent people. These people regarded the city of Canterbury as their capital.
In 597, Pope Gregory I appointed the religious missionary (who became Saint Augustine of Canterbury after his death) as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In the previous year, Augustine successfully converted the pagan King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. The Diocese of Canterbury became Britain’s first Episcopal See with first cathedral and has since remained Englands centre of Christianity. The second designated English cathedral was in Kent at Rochester Cathedral.
In the 11th century, the people of Kent adopted the motto Invicta, meaning “undefeated”. This naming followed the invasion of Britain by William of Normandy. The Kent people’s continued resistance against the Normans led to Kent’s designation as a semi-autonomous county palatine in 1067. Under the nominal rule of William’s half-brother Odo of Bayeux, the county was granted similar powers to those granted in the areas bordering Wales and Scotland. Kent was traditionally partitioned into East and West Kent, and into lathes and hundreds.
During the medieval and early modern period, Kent played a major role in several of England’s most notable rebellions, including the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, led by Wat Tyler, Jack Cade’s Kent rebellion of 1450, and Wyatt’s Rebellion of 1554 against Queen Mary I.
Title page of William Lambarde’s Perambulation of Kent (completed in 1570, and published in 1576), a historical description of Kent and the first published county history
The Royal Navy first used the River Medway in 1547. By the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) a small dockyard had been established at Chatham. By 1618, storehouses, a ropewalk, a drydock, and houses for officials had been built downstream from Chatham.
By the 17th century, tensions between Britain and the powers of the Netherlands and France led to increasing military build-up in the county. Forts were built all along the coast following the raid on the Medway, a successful attack by the Dutch navy on the shipyards of the Medway towns in 1667.
The 18th century was dominated by wars with France, during which the Medway became the primary base for a fleet that could act along the Dutch and French coasts. When the theatre of operation moved to the Atlantic, this role was assumed by Portsmouth and Plymouth, with Chatham concentrating on shipbuilding and ship repair. As an indication of the area’s military importance, the first Ordnance Survey map ever drawn was a one-inch map of Kent, published in 1801. Many of the Georgian naval buildings still stand.
In the early 19th century, smugglers were very active on the Kent coastline. Gangs such as The Aldington Gang brought spirits, tobacco and salt to the county, and transported goods such as wool across the sea to France.
In 1889, the County of London was created and the townships of Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Lee, Eltham, Charlton, Kidbrooke and Lewisham were transferred out of Kent and in 1900 the area of Penge was gained. Some of Kent is contiguous with the Greater London sprawl, notably parts of Dartford.
During World War II, much of the Battle of Britain was fought in the skies over the county. Between June 1944 and March 1945, over 10,000 V1 flying bombs or “Doodlebugs”, were fired toward London from bases in Northern France. Although many were destroyed by aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, and barrage balloons, both London and Kent were hit by around 2,500 of these bombs.
After the war, Kent’s borders changed several more times. In 1965 the London boroughs of Bromley and Bexley were created from nine towns formerly in Kent. In 1998, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, and Rainham left the administrative county of Kent to form the Unitary Authority of Medway. During this reorganisation, through an “apparent” administrative oversight, the city of Rochester lost its official city status.
For almost nine centuries a small part of present-day East London (the North Woolwich, London E16 area), formed part of Kent. The most likely reason for this is that in 1086 Hamon, dapifer and Sheriff of Kent, owned the manor and, perhaps illegally, annexed it to Kent. It ceased to be considered part of the county in 1965 upon creation of the London Borough of Newham.
THe county is one of the warmest parts of Britain. On 10 August 2003, in the hamlet of Brogdale near Faversham the temperature reached 38.5 °C (101.3 °F), the hottest temperature ever recorded in the United Kingdom.