The country of Kent in the south east of England has long since been referred to as the ‘Garden of England’. This is due to its beautiful rolling landscape, green hills, fertile soil and bucolic countryside. As a destination Kent should definitely be high up on the list of places to visit for those who want to learn more about an area which is closer to France than it is to Wales, and which has a rich and varied role in the history of England.
On the frontline between England and Europe
Strategically Kent has always been a frontline between the British Isles and the rest of Europe. From the white cliffs of Dover on a clear day you can see right across the Channel to the coast of France, which is why the town of Dover has historically been referred to as the ‘Lock and Key of England’. It has fronted many invasions over the centuries, from Julius Caesar to World War II.
It is for this reason that Kent has such a rich variety of historic buildings and castles to visit. From the famous Sissinghurst Castle Garden to Dover Castle itself, visitors can immerse themselves into hundreds of years of English history.
The iconic Dover Castle
To truly understand the robust nature of the English in defense of its land, a visit to Dover Castle is a must. This medieval castle was founded in the 11th century by King Henry II and has changed and adapted over the ensuring 800 years in response to the changing nature of threats that it faced in its tumultuous history. The castle sits high on a cliff looking over the Straits of Dover, which is the shortest point of the English Channel between England and the continent of Europe.
As well as massive walls and towers, the grounds below are crisscrossed with a network of tunnels to enable castle life to function safely on a day to day basis.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Lovers of horticulture will be well aware of the legacy of Sissinghurst Castle Garden – this Tudor manor was transformed in the 1930s by the writer, poet and gardener Vita Sackville-West and her diplomat husband Harold Nicolson. It also became the focus of the infamous ‘Bloomsbury’ set, as a retreat for the literary elite of the 1930s and 40s, which included Virginia Woolf.
A fertile and abundant land
As well as providing some of the most eye wateringly beautiful landscapes, Kent’s ‘Garden of England’ moniker is well deserved with an abundance of home grown produce. The region is actually one the UK’s most prolific wine producers due to its south facing chalky soil and mild climate. If you are planning to visit some of the area’s 50 vineyards, make sure you book a local Kent taxi service so that you can truly enjoy the finished product.
Shop well shop local
The region has a network of dozens of farm shops which showcase the very best of Kent’s home grown produce. Farming is still a strong industry which employs over 16,000 jobs, and makes up over 85 per cent of Kent’s food and drink production enterprises. While promoting Kent is a key part of the region’s overall strategy, it is also the crossroads for external influences coming from continental Europe. As the first port of call across the English Channel, the region experiences a rich and diverse culture of trading that has influenced food and drink production, mixing locally grown products, with more with tastes, techniques and processes learned from overseas.