Kent is known to have been occupied since the Palaeolithic Age of some 400,000 years ago, so it is suffice to say that the county is not short on historical significance. The Romans are thought to have landed at Richborough Castle when they invaded Britain circa 43 AD and the surviving foundations of their triumphal arch are still there to this day, looked after by English Heritage.
Known as Cantia in around 730 AD and then Cent in 835 AD, the medieval capital was Canterbury and the inhabitants were known as the Cantwara – Kent people. The Domesday Book tells us that Kent was divided into seven lathes in 1086 and these county subdivisions remained in place for 600 years for judicial and taxation reasons.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, tensions were high between Britain and France, with the River Medway becoming a prime naval base for fleets fighting the Dutch and French coasts. Chatham Dockyard built over 400 naval ships and Charles Dickens’ father worked there, with many of the surrounding areas then featuring heavily in Dickens’ writing of later years.
Kent’s wartime significance was heightened further during World War II when much of the Battle of Britain was fought over the county. The area became known as Doddlebug Alley between 1944 and 1945 due to nearly 2,500 Doodlebugs (V1 flying bombs) fired from Northern France falling on Kent land; nearly as many as landed on London.
A visit to Kent will provide you with opportunities to see many buildings and artefacts from the past, including Restoration House, where King Charles II stayed the night before the monarchy was officially restored in England and Churchill’s beloved family home Chartwell House, which is now owned by the National Trust. For more great historical sights and activities in Kent, take a look at our ‘Things To Do in Kent’ page.
It’s not just about battles and wars, though. Kent is famous for its literary links, having been the home of the aforementioned Charles Dickens as well as children’s author Roald Dahl and Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories told as if by pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury Cathedral. Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of Species in Downe and the house in which he wrote it is open to the public. Jane Austen also visited her brother in Kent frequently.
These days, there are approximately 1.5 million people living in Kent with Maidstone being home to nearly 160,000 people making it the most populated Borough. There are slightly more females than males living in the county and the Office for National Statistics forecasts that the population will continue to grow with there being more births than deaths and more people moving into Kent than away from the area.
As you can see, history is rich in Kent and there are stories everywhere as you make your way around this beautiful county. For more information about the area, click here and have a read of our Latest News to find out how we are working with local Kent businesses to create a greener, more sustainable future.