There is a hill beside the silver Thames,
Shady with birch and beech and odorous pine:
And brilliant underfoot with thousand gems
Steeply the thickets to his floods decline.
Straight trees in every place
Their thick tops interlace,
And pendant branches trail their foliage fine
Upon his watery face.
Robert Seymour Bridges OM, Poet Laureate and born in Kent
Kent, the name coming from the Celtic for ‘coastal district’, 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 and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River Thames.
The area has been occupied since the Palaeolithic era and there is evidence of occupation across Neolithic era, the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman occupation. Julius Caesar called the area Cantium, and considered that the people of Kent were ‘by far the most civilised inhabitants of Britain’.
In 597, Pope Gregory appointed Augustine as the first Archbishop of Canterbury, who had converted King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. The Diocese of Canterbury became England’s first See and it remains the prime episcopacy in England.
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.
Ightham Mote is a Grade I listed medieval manor house, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is owned by the National Trust. Originally dating to around 1320, the building is important because it has most of its original features; successive owners effected relatively few changes to the main structure, after the completion of the quadrangle with a new chapel in the 16th century. The construction is of “Kentish ragstone and dull red brick,” the buildings of the courtyard having originally been built of timber and subsequently rebuilt in stone.
Scotney Castle is an English country house with formal gardens and is owned by the National Trust. The gardens are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and and the central feature is the ruins of a medieval, moated manor house, Scotney Old Castle, which is on an island on a small lake.