The Centre of the World for Centuries
Kent has been a main centre of activity in England for centuries. It has been occupied by humans since Palaeolithic times, and there are still megaliths to be seen from the Neolithic era as well as relics from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman occupation. Canterbury is Britain’s first Episcopal See and is still the centre of Christianity in Britain. From the Peasants’ Revolt in 1382 to the Battle of Britain during World War II, Kent has seen its share of momentous occasions.
The Romans invaded Britain in AD 43 through Richborough Castle in eastern Kent. The base of the commemorative arch the Romans built can still be seen.
In the fifth century AD, Kent was one of the Jute kingdoms, but it really came into its own with the Norman Conquest, when it refused to admit it was conquered, took the motto Invicta and constantly attacked the Normans whenever it could. Because the Normans basically ignored them, Kent became a semi-autonomous county.
Leeds Castle is the most historically interesting. It dates from the 9th century and stands on several small islands in a lake. It also has modern attractions with a grotto, maze and playground for children.
Henry VIII also added his mark with a line of castles along the coast to protect against a French invasion. Deal Castle was state-of-the-art to make the best use of 119 cannons, the new super-weapon.
Kent has always had many ports available for the seaworthy, but the Royal Navy first used the River Medway in 1547 with a dockyard, storehouses, dry-dock and houses for officials nearby.