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Facts

KENT

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FUN FACTS

Kent is the 10th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Kent has the 6th highest population in England.
Kent is in 17th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. There are two castles in Kent which have a specific royal connection and, in a way, a further connection. I will explain. The first is Leeds Castle which for years I thought was near Leeds in Yorkshire. I could never work out why people would travel to Kent to visit Leeds Castle. Once I realised Leeds Castle was in Kent, all became clear. It is said to be the loveliest castle in the world and, based on this picture, I would not disagree. It was Henry VIII who turned the castle from a fortified stronghold to a magnificent royal palace. Major alterations were made between 1517 and 1523 so that Henry and his first wife Catherine of Aragon could enjoy comfort and splendour whenever they came to visit.



    However, those who know your history will be aware that when Catherine seemed unable to provide Henry with a son and heir, he grew tired of her. He then found a new love who happened to be one of Catherine's ladies-in-waiting. Her name was Anne Boleyn and Anne's insistence that she wanted to be Henry's wife not his mistress completely changed the history of England. Henry eventually divorced Catherine, was expelled from the Catholic Church and founded the Church of England. The connection was that Anne was brought up in Hever castle which is also in Kent.

    After 3 years of marriage Anne Boleyn was found guilty of adultery, incest and high treason and beheaded. Henry then married one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour. Sadly Jane died giving birth to a son and, after a four year wait, Henry married again. This new lady wasn't a lady-in-waiting nor was she a success as a wife, lasting just six months. Her name was Anne and she came from Cleves in Belgium. She wasn't beheaded, just divorced and as part of the divorce agreement, Henry gave her Hever castle which he had inherited when Anne Boleyn's father, Thomas, died in 1539.

  3. Kent Eats
  4. Kent is known as the garden of England. It has this title because the weather makes it a good place for fruit to grow (and other things). It is said that Henry VIII gave it this title after eating a delightful bowl of Kentish cherries. It is also conveniently situated close to London so was able to get its produce to the capital fairly quickly even before the motor car.

    The video on the left is about making a Canterbury Apple Tart. There is a story that says the first recipe for such a tart was mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's famous book, The Canterbury Tales. Who knows? Rhetorical question which means I'm not expecting an answer but if I did get one it would almost certainly say, I don't.

    The base of the tart is just a simple pastry base. The topping is slices of eating apples sprinkled with sugar which brown during cooking. But the middle is the interesting bit, well to me it is, because it is a combination of grated cooking apples mixed with sugar, butter and the juice and rind of two lemons. This gives the tart a nice, tangy flavour although Owlbut seems more interested in a grey quirrel.

  5. Kent VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Kent in the last 100 years:-
    Katherine Rundell (Author), Dr Ranjit Singh (Doctor/TV Presenter), Pixie Lott (Singer), Dina Asher-Smith (Athlete), Keith Richards (Guitarist/Co-Founder The Rolling Stones), Gemma Arterton (Actor/Producer) and Harvey Leigh Cantwell aka Hrvy (singer/TV Presenter)

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Once upon a time (oh good a bedtime story) the Isle of Thanet was actually an island. We know this because the venerable Bede (oh no a Bede time story) wrote about it in his history of England which you can read about here. It is also farly certain that people lived on the island during the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages.

    The Romans landed some where near Thanet on all three of their invasions in 55BC, 54BC and 43AD. Then, after the Romans left, Vortigern, King of the Britons, was being attacked by other tribes and asked for help which duly arrived in the shape of two Saxons, Hengist and Horsa. Vortigern was so pleased he gave them the Isle of Thanet.

    The stretch of water between the Isle and the mainland was known as the Wantsum Channel and this allowed ships to sail between the mainland and the island in calm waters. But, slowly this silted up and the last ship sailed through the Channel in 1672.

    However, the name remained and the Isle of Thanet, although no longer an island is still known as an isle. It is, therefore, one of two islands on which I have lived (for more than a year), having lived there from 1995 to 2002. The other island was called Waiheke Island and is off the coast of New Zealand.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. Dover Castle sits on a hill overlooking the port of Dover so it's well named. However, although I would recommend a visit to said castle having been there as recently as 2016, it is what is underground that fills this section because it was from here that one of greatest operations in the history of England saved the lives of around 338,000 men.

    Operation Dynamo was controlled from tunnels dug into the chalk cliffs around Dover. Dover is the closest piece of English land to continental Europe and, during the Napoleonic wars, the castle was strengthened with new guns. However, they had nowhere to put the 2,000 men needed to man the guns so they built tunnels beneath the castle to house them. Napoleon never made it across the channel and the tunnels were abandoned until WWII. At first they were used as air raid shelters before becoming a naval command centre.

    Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay was given the job of protecting the Channel from enemy action. But on 26 May 1940, he found himself at the centre of one of WWII's most memorable operations, Operation Dynamo, better know as the evacuation of Dunkirk. The British Army in France had been forced back to the northern coast at Dunkirk. Somehow the remaining troops had to be taken off the French coast and brought back to England. Dunkirk harbour was destroyed and large boats couldn't get close to the beach. A call was put out to anyone who owned a small boat to help. These boats could get close to the shore and ferry men to the larger ships waiting in the channel.

    The people in those tunnels worked in cramped, dark and hot conditions, sometimes working for 36 hour shifts for a total of ten days but, from those tunnels, they succeeded in completing one of the great naval rescue missions ever.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. Kent has a north, east and south coast bordering three different stretches of water. They are, in the same order, the River Thames, the North Sea and the English Channel. Where one ends and another begins I am not totally sure. Furthermore, Kent was the end of my first two trips and the beginning of my third. The reason for that was that at the end of that second trip, in July 1995, our last accommodation was a flat, over looking the sea, in Ramsgate. It was so beautiful that we decided to settle there although by October of that year we had moved inland, though still in Ramsgate.

    A clockwise journey around the Kent coast starts at the Dartford Crossing where the road crosses over, heading south, or under, heading north, the River Thames from Essex to Kent. You then head east along the edge of the Thames passing Gravesend, where the grave of the Native Indian Princess Pocahontas can be found, past the Isles of Grain and Sheppey, which aren't islands at all and on to Whitstable, famous for its oysters. Further on you reach Westgate where a happy 3-year-old experienced his first ever seaside holiday.

    Next to Westgate is Margate and it is here you turn south and the sea becomes the North Sea. I remember Margate as a brash resort with a large beach and south of that is Broadstairs, one time home of Charles Dickens and a far quieter resort but home to the greatest ice cream parlour in the world. I went back there in 2016 after 14 years away and the ice creams were just as good as I remember. I did say that I lived in Kent from 1995 until 2002 and so know the county pretty well and Morelli's ice creams ever better. First sold in 1907, in my view, the choice and quality is unbeaten anywhere.


    We then move south to Ramsgate itself and I think one of the reasons, apart from the sea views, that I wanted to settle there was based on my very first impression when I drove in there in 1986 on my first trip. The view is very much as you see in the picture on the right. It was a sunny day and to see all these boats moored in a calm, protected harbour stunned me. In fact, every time after that when I returned to Ramsgate, even if I'd only been away for a few hours, I tried to take that route in to the town. I'm don't think I ever really created that first time feeling. This view will be the first of my 10 memorable, wow-giving, views in England. Look out for the others.

    Ramsgate was also one of the ports where the soldiers from Dunkirk were disembarked. 4,200 little ships left from Ramsgate Harbour to rescue troops from Dunkirk and 80,000 men were brought back to safety. Ramsgate is the only "Royal" harbour in England. It was granted that status by George IV in 1821 after he had stayed in the town. It also has its own Meridian Line, set down in 1819, which was 5 minutes and 41 seconds ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, GMT. In 1848 Ramsgate abandoned RMT in favour of GMT.

    The next significant place I remember is St Margaret's Bay as this is the place where all the silly people who think swimming 21 miles across the channel is a fun idea start their journey. Then I remember the ports of Dover and Folkestone, I've already told you a bit about Dover Castle and the wartime tunnels but the first view of the port down a steep hill always makes me think of European travel. Dover also has a part of the port for cruise ships. Out to sea near here are the Goodwin Sands, a sand bar 12 miles long and 5 miles wide and the graveyard of countless ships over the years. The sands can be visible at low tide and, in 1854, a Mr Hammond and a Mr Thompson held a cricket match on the sands. This rather strange idea has continued, on and off, ever since.

    My final memories of the Kent coast are the rather unspoilt and indeed when I was there, empty beaches at Greatstone and Littlestone and the utter loneliness and desolation seen at Dungeness.

    Inland, Kent is dominated by Canterbury Cathedral. Unsurprisingly this is in the city of Canterbury, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral, or the site it is now on, has been a place of worship for over 1,400 years. It houses the tombs of many Kings and Queens and, of course, is the site of the assassination of Thomas à Beckett. You can read more about this in our Times Past section, here.

    The other thing I remember about Canterbury is that some of the old city walls still surround the city. Alongside new, modern roads with modern traffic are these old walls. There is more to Kent with its oast houses and strange roofs, the name of "The Garden of England" for all the fruit growing and, in some places, a feeling of old-fashioned quiet. The Battle of Britain may well have been fought above these green fields but nowadays there is no sign of that horrific fight which culminated in victory for the United Kingdom and ensured our freedom.



  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The Canada goose was introduced into England from North America. It is a large goose and has a black head and neck with a large white patch on its throat. Its feathers are a mixture of black, brown, cream, grey and white. It has brown legs and a chunky, black, medium-length beak.

    They are a common sight around lakes, gravel pits and parks and can be a bit of a nuisance. They eat roots, leaves, grass and seeds. There are over 60,000 breeding pairs while 3 times that number may winter here.

    Canada geese are between 90 and 110 cms in length, have a wingspan of between 1.5 to 1.8 metres and can weigh between 4.3 and 5 kilograms.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Kent check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020