Quick facts for kidsKent
Kent in England
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Lord Lieutenant||Philip Sidney|
|High Sheriff||Kathrin Smallwood (2016-17)|
|Area||3,736 km2 (1,442 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||10th of 48|
|Population (2005 est.)||1,621,000|
|• Ranked||7th of 48|
|Density||434/km2 (1,120/sq mi)|
|Ethnicity||89% White British|
|County council||Kent County Council|
|Area||3,544 km2 (1,368 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||10th of 27|
|• Ranked||1st of 27|
|Density||386/km2 (1,000/sq mi)|
Districts of Kent
Unitary County council area
|Members of Parliament||List of MPs|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC)|
|• Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
Kent // 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. The county also shares borders with Essex via the Dartford Crossing and the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.
Canterbury Cathedral in Kent has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, since the conversion of England to Christianity by Saint Augustine began in the 6th century. Between London and the Strait of Dover, which separates it from mainland Europe, Kent has seen both diplomacy and conflict, ranging from the Leeds Castle peace talks of 1978 and 2004 to the Battle of Britain in World War II.
England relied on the county's ports to provide warships through much of its history; the Cinque Ports in the 12th–14th centuries and Chatham Dockyard in the 16th–20th centuries were of particular importance. France can be seen clearly in fine weather from Folkestone and the White Cliffs of Dover. Hills in the form of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge span the length of the county and in the series of valleys in between and to the south are most of the county's 26 castles.
Because of its relative abundance of fruit-growing and hop gardens, Kent is known as "The Garden of England". The title was defended in 2006 when a survey of beautiful counties by the UKTV Style Gardens channel put Kent in fifth place, behind North Yorkshire, Devon, Derbyshire and Gloucestershire.
Kent's economy is greatly diversified. Haulage, logistics, and tourism are major industries; major industries in north-west Kent include aggregate building materials, printing and scientific research. Coal mining has also played its part in Kent's industrial heritage. Large parts of Kent are within the London commuter belt and its strong transport connections to the capital and the nearby continent makes Kent a high income county. Twenty-eight per cent of the county forms part of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the North Downs and The High Weald.
The area has been occupied since the Palaeolithic era, as attested by finds from the quarries at Swanscombe. The Medway megaliths were built during the Neolithic era. There is a rich sequence of Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman era occupation, as indicated by finds and features such as the Ringlemere gold cup and the Roman villas of the Darent valley.
The modern name of Kent is derived from the Brythonic word Cantus meaning "rim" or "border". This describes the eastern part of the current county area as a border land or coastal district. Julius Caesar had described the area as Cantium, or home of the Cantiaci in 51 BC. The extreme west of the modern county was by the time of Roman Britain occupied by Iron Age tribes, known as the Regnenses.
East Kent became a kingdom of the Jutes during the 5th century and was known as Cantia from about 730 and recorded as Cent in 835. The early medieval inhabitants of the county were known as the Cantwara, or Kent people. These people regarded the city of Canterbury as their capital.
In 597, Pope Gregory I appointed the religious missionary (who became Saint Augustine of Canterbury after his death) as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In the previous year, Augustine successfully converted the pagan King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. The Diocese of Canterbury became Britain's first Episcopal See with first cathedral and has since remained England's centre of Christianity. The second designated English cathedral was in Kent at Rochester Cathedral.
In the 11th century, the people of Kent adopted the motto Invicta, meaning "undefeated". This naming followed the invasion of Britain by William of Normandy. The Kent people's continued resistance against the Normans led to Kent's designation as a semi-autonomous county palatine in 1067. Under the nominal rule of William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux, the county was granted similar powers to those granted in the areas bordering Wales and Scotland. Kent was traditionally partitioned into East and West Kent, and into lathes and hundreds.
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.
The Royal Navy first used the River Medway in 1547. By the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) a small dockyard had been established at Chatham. By 1618, storehouses, a ropewalk, a drydock, and houses for officials had been built downstream from Chatham.
By the 17th century, tensions between Britain and the powers of the Netherlands and France led to increasing military build-up in the county. Forts were built all along the coast following the raid on the Medway, a successful attack by the Dutch navy on the shipyards of the Medway towns in 1667.
The 18th century was dominated by wars with France, during which the Medway became the primary base for a fleet that could act along the Dutch and French coasts. When the theatre of operation moved to the Atlantic, this role was assumed by Portsmouth and Plymouth, with Chatham concentrating on shipbuilding and ship repair. Many of the Georgian naval buildings still stand.
In the early 19th century, smugglers were very active on the Kent coastline. Gangs such as The Aldington Gang brought spirits, tobacco and salt to the county, and transported goods such as wool across the sea to France.
In 1889, the County of London was created and the townships of Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Lee, Eltham, Charlton, Kidbrooke and Lewisham were transferred out of Kent and in 1900 the area of Penge was gained. Some of Kent is contiguous with the Greater London sprawl, notably parts of Dartford.
During World War II, much of the Battle of Britain was fought in the skies over the county. Between June 1944 and March 1945, over 10,000 V1 flying bombs or "Doodlebugs", were fired toward London from bases in Northern France. Although many were destroyed by aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, and barrage balloons, both London and Kent were hit by around 2,500 of these bombs.
After the war, Kent's borders changed several more times. In 1965 the London boroughs of Bromley and Bexley were created from nine towns formerly in Kent. In 1998, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, and Rainham left the administrative county of Kent to form the Unitary Authority of Medway. During this reorganisation, through an "apparent" administrative oversight, the city of Rochester lost its official city status. In 2016 consultations began between five Kent local authorities (Canterbury, Thanet, Dover, Shepway and Ashford) with a view to forming a new Unitary Authority for East Kent, outside the auspices of Kent County Council.
For almost nine centuries a small part of present-day East London (the North Woolwich, London E16 area), formed part of Kent. The most likely reason for this is that in 1086 Hamon, dapifer and Sheriff of Kent, owned the manor and, perhaps illegally, annexed it to Kent. It ceased to be considered part of the county in 1965 upon creation of the London Borough of Newham.
Kent is one of the warmest parts of Britain. On 10 August 2003, in the hamlet of Brogdale near Faversham the temperature reached 38.5 °C (101.3 °F), the hottest temperature ever officially recorded in the United Kingdom.
|Climate data for Wye, England (1981–2010) data|
|Average high °C (°F)||7.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||4.5
|Average low °C (°F)||1.7
|Precipitation mm (inches)||71.4
|Avg. rainy days||12.7||9.6||9.5||9.0||9.2||7.9||7.7||7.4||8.1||12.1||12.0||12.2||117.4|
Kent is in the southeastern corner of England. It borders the River Thames and the North Sea to the north, and the Straits of Dover and the English Channel to the south. France is 34 kilometres (21 mi) across the Strait.
The major geographical features of the county are determined by a series of ridges and valleys running east-west across the county. These are the results of erosion of the Wealden dome, a dome across Kent and Sussex created by alpine movements 10–20 million years ago. This dome consists of an upper layer of chalk above successive layers of Upper Greensand, Gault Clay, Lower Greensand, Weald Clay, and Wealden sandstone. The ridges and valleys formed when the exposed clay eroded faster than the exposed chalk, greensand, or sandstone.
Sevenoaks, Maidstone, Ashford, and Folkestone are built on greensand, while Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are built on sandstone. Dartford, Gravesend, the Medway towns, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Canterbury, Deal, and Dover are built on chalk. The easterly section of the Wealden dome has been eroded away by the sea, and cliffs such as the White Cliffs of Dover are present where a chalk ridge known as the North Downs meets the coast. Spanning Dover and Westerham is the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Wealden dome is a Mesozoic structure lying on a Palaeozoic foundation, which can often create the right conditions for coal formation. This is found in East Kent roughly between Deal, Canterbury, and Dover. The Coal Measures within the Westphalian Sandstone are deep about 250–400 m (820–1,310 ft) and subject to flooding. They occur in two major troughs, which extend under the English Channel where similar coalfields are located.
Seismic activity has occasionally been recorded in Kent, though the epicentres were offshore. In 1382 and 1580 there were two earthquakes exceeding 6.0 on the Richter Scale. In 1776, 1950, and on 28 April 2007 there were earthquakes of around 4.3. The 2007 earthquake caused physical damage in Folkestone. A further quake on 22 May 2015 measured 4.2 on the Richter Scale. The epicentre was in the Sandwich area of east Kent at a depth of some ten miles from the surface. There was little if any damage reported.
The coastline of Kent is continuously changing, due to tectonic uplift and coastal erosion. Until about 960, the Isle of Thanet was an island, separated by the Wantsum channel, formed around a deposit of chalk; over time, the channels silted up with alluvium. Similarly Romney Marsh and Dungeness have been formed by accumulation of alluvium.
Kent's principal river, the River Medway, rises near East Grinstead in Sussex and flows eastwards to Maidstone. Here it turns north and breaks through the North Downs at Rochester, then joins the estuary of the River Thames as its final tributary near Sheerness. The Medway is some 112 kilometres (70 mi) long. The river is tidal as far as Allington lock, but in earlier times, cargo-carrying vessels reached as far upstream as Tonbridge. The Medway has captured the head waters of other rivers such as the River Darent. Other rivers of Kent include the River Stour in the east.
- See also: List of hills of Kent
- See also: List of settlements in Kent by population
At the 2011 census, Kent, including Medway, had 1,727,665 residents (18.0% of which in Medway); had 711,847 households (17.5% of which in Medway) and had 743,436 dwellings (14.8% of which in Medway). 51.1% of Kent's population excluding Medway was female — as to Medway this proportion was 50.4%.
The tables below provide statistics for the administrative county of Kent, that is, excluding Medway.
|Married couples with/without children||Sole occupants||Unmarried couples with/without children||Lone parents||Shared homes and institutions|
|210,671||174,331 of which 79,310 over aged 65||63,750||60,645||77,877|
|Unit||JSA or Inc. Supp. claimants (August 2012)||JSA and Income Support claimants (August 2001)||Population (April 2011)|
|% of 2011 Kent resident population
(2001 population where applicable)
|Three highest-ranking districts|
|Borough of Swale||4.8%||7.5%||135,835|
|Three lowest-ranking districts|
|Tonbridge and Malling District||2.5%||4.4%||120,805|
|Borough of Tunbridge Wells||2.2%||5.1%||115,049|
Kent's geographical location between the Straits of Dover and London has impacted its architecture, as has its cretacious geology and its good farming land and fine building clays. Kent's countryside pattern was determined by a gavelkind inheritance system that generated a proliferation of small settlements. There was no open-field system, and the large tracts were owned by the two great abbeys, Christ Church, Canterbury and St Augustine's Abbey, that did not pass into the hands of the king during the Reformation. Canterbury Cathedral is the United Kingdom's metropolitan cathedral; it was founded in AD 598 and displays architecture from all periods. There are nine Anglo-Saxon churches in Kent. Rochester Cathedral is England's second oldest cathedral, the present building built in the Early English Style. These two dioceses ensured that every village had a parish church.
The sites of Richborough Castle and Dover Castle, along with two strategic sites along Watling Street, were fortified by the Romans and Normans. Other important sites include Canterbury city walls and Rochester Castle. There remained a need to defend London and thus Kent. Deal Castle, Walmer Castle, Sandown Castle (whose remains were eroded by the sea in the 1990s) were constructed in late mediaeval times, and HM Dockyard, at Chatham and its surrounding castles and forts—Upnor Castle, Great Lines, and Fort Amherst—more recently.
Kent has three unique vernacular architecture forms: the Oast house, the Wealden hall house, and Kentish peg-tiles.
Kent has bridge trusts to maintain its bridges, and though the great bridge (1387) at Rochester was replaced there are medieval structures at Aylesford, Yalding and Teston. With the motorways in the late twentieth century came the M2 motorway bridge spanning the Medway and the Dartford tunnel and the Dartford Bridge spanning the Thames.
The Bluewater shopping centre is the United Kingdom's largest shopping mall.
Kent has provided inspiration for several notable writers and artists. Canterbury's religious role gave rise to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a key development in the English language. The father of novelist Charles Dickens worked at the Chatham Dockyard; in many of his books, the celebrated novelist featured the scenery of Chatham, Rochester, and the Cliffe marshes. During the late 1930s, Nobel Prize-awarded novelist William Golding worked as a teacher at Maidstone Grammar School, where he met his future wife Ann Brookfield.
A number of significant artists came from Kent, including Thomas Sidney Cooper, a painter of landscapes, often incorporating farm animals, Richard Dadd, a maker of faery paintings, and Mary Tourtel, the creator of the children's book character, Rupert Bear. The artist Clive Head was also born in Kent. The landscape painter J. M. W. Turner spent part of his childhood in the town of Margate in East Kent, and regularly returned to visit it throughout his life. The East Kent coast inspired many of his works, including some of his most famous seascapes. Kent has also been the home to artists including Frank Auerbach, Tracey Emin and Stass Paraskos.
Kent was also the location of the largest number of art schools in the country during the nineteenth century, estimated by the art historian David Haste, to approach two hundred. This is believed to be the result of Kent being a front line county during the Napoleonic Wars. At this time, before the invention of photography, draughtsman were used to draw maps and topographical representations of the fields of battle, and after the wars ended many of these settled permanently in the county in which they had been based. Once the idea of art schools had been established, even in small towns in Kent, the tradition continued, although most of the schools were very small one man operations, each teaching a small number of daughters of the upper classes how to draw and make watercolour paintings. Nonetheless, some of these small art schools developed into much larger organisations, including Canterbury College of Art, founded by Thomas Sidney Cooper in 1868, which is today the University for the Creative Arts.
The county's largest theatre is the Marlowe Theatre, situated in the centre of Canterbury. It re-opened, after being completely rebuilt, in October 2011. Music festivals that take place in Kent include Chilled in a Field Festival, Electric Gardens, Hop Farm Festival, In the Woods Festival, and Lounge On The Farm.
With the Roman invasion, a road network was constructed to connect London to the Channel ports of Dover, Lympne and Richborough. The London–Dover road was Watling Street. These roads are now approximately the A2, B2068, A257, and the A28. The A2 runs through Dartford (A207), Gravesend, Rochester, Canterbury and Dover; the A20 through Eltham, Wrotham, Maidstone, Charing, Ashford. Hythe, Folkestone and Dover; the A21 around Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and on to Hastings in East Sussex. In the 1960s, two motorways were built; the M2 from Medway to Faversham, and the M20 from Swanley to Folkestone. Part of the M25 runs through Kent, from Westerham to the Kent and Essex tunnel at Dartford. The Dartford tunnel has been joined by the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, together providing four lanes in each direction. The M26 motorway, built in 1980, provides a short link between the M25 at Sevenoaks and the M20 near Wrotham. Kent currently has more motorways by distance than any other county in the UK, with sections of the M2, M20, M25 and M26 totalling 173 km (107 mi) within the extents of the ceremonial county.
The medieval Cinque Ports, except for Dover, have all now silted up. The Medway Estuary has been an important port and naval base for 500 years. The River Medway is tidal up to Allington and navigable up to Tonbridge. Kent's two canals are the Royal Military Canal between Hythe and Rye, which still exists, and the Thames and Medway Canal between Strood and Gravesend. Built in 1824, it was purchased in 1846 by the railways, which partially backfilled it. Container ports are located at Ramsgate and Thamesport.
The earliest locomotive-driven passenger-carrying railway in Britain was the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway which opened in 1830. This and the London and Greenwich Railway later merged into South Eastern Railway (SER). By the 1850s, SER's networks had expanded to Ashford, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells, and the Medway towns. SER's major London termini were London Bridge, Charing Cross, and Cannon Street. Kent also had a second major railway, the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR). Originally the East Kent Railway in 1858, it linked the northeast Kent coast with London terminals at Victoria and Blackfriars.
The two companies merged in 1899, forming the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR), further amalgamated with other railways by the Railways Act 1921 to form the Southern Railway. Britain's railways were nationalised in 1948, forming British Railways (shortened to British Rail in the mid-1960s). The railways were privatised in 1996 and most Kent passenger services were franchised to Connex South Eastern. Following financial difficulties, Connex lost the franchise and was replaced by South Eastern Trains and after Southeastern.
The Channel Tunnel was completed in 1994 and High Speed 1 in November 2007 with a London terminus at St Pancras. A new station, Ebbsfleet International, opened between Dartford and Gravesend, serving northern Kent. The high speed lines will be utilised to provide a faster train service to coastal towns like Ramsgate and Folkestone. This station is in addition to the existing station at Ashford International, which has suffered a massive cut in service as a result.
In addition to the "main line" railways, there are several light, heritage, and industrial railways in Kent. There are three heritage, standard gauge railways; Spa Valley Railway near Tunbridge Wells on the old Tunbridge Wells West branch, East Kent Railway on the old East Kent coalfield area and the Kent and East Sussex Railway on the Weald around Tenterden. In addition there is the 15-inch (380 mm) gauge, Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway on the southeast Kent coast along the Dungeness peninsula. Finally, there is the 2 ft 6 in (0.76 m), industrial Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, previously the Bowaters Paper Railway.
In 2002, it was revealed that the government was considering building a new four-runway airport on the marshland near the village of Cliffe on Hoo Peninsula. This plan was dropped in 2003 following protests by cultural and environmental groups. However further plans for a Thames Estuary Airport on the Kent coast have subsequently emerged, including the Thames Hub Airport, again sited on the Isle of Grain and designed by Lord Foster, and the London Britannia Airport plan, colloquially known as "Boris Island" due to its being championed by the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, which would see a six runway airport built on an artificial island to be located towards the Shivering Sands area, north-east of Whitstable. Both of these options were dropped in 2014 in favour of expansion at either Gatwick or Heathrow Airport, the latter finally being the chosen option following Teresa May's installation as Prime Minister in summer 2016.
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