By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
Whether you love to castle-hop or discover contemporary artworks, Kent’s fascinating historic sites combine with thriving cultural scenes to suit everyone’s travel passions.
Take a leaf out of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and embark on your own pilgrimage through history. Start at Canterbury Cathedral, which houses the shrine of medieval Archbishop Thomas Becket. The majestic structure is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church. It’s a real treat for history and culture lovers.
All aboard a rowboat with Canterbury Historic River Tours to see the city’s splendour from a different angle. Guides point out Canterbury’s rich past on 40-minute tours, and you’ll relax while gliding by stunning architecture. Continue your journey at Canterbury Norman Castle. Built between 1085 and 1125, the dramatic ruins rest amid lush, green gardens.
The majestic structure of Canterbury Cathedral is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church
Moving onto museum-hopping, you’ll learn about ancient Roman towns and admire rare objects at the Canterbury Roman Museum. There’s something for all ages at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, with state-of-the-art exhibition galleries, a library and education programmes. Be sure to document your pilgrimage along the Canterbury Selfie Trail. It highlights 10 exciting stops from Canterbury Cathedral to the Canterbury Roman Museum.
You might not catch a stagecoach to Tunbridge Wells as you would have in Georgian times, but you will see glorious remnants of the past. Meander around the Pantiles on a backdrop of buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Pop into charming galleries, such as the Fairfax Art Gallery to see original paintings and sculpture. You’ll admire paintings by local artists before enjoying a year-round programme of theatre, dance and opera at Trinity Theatre.
Captivating Scotney Castle is a 14th-century, moated wonder in Lamberhurst. Wander around the romantic gardens and the Victorian mansion – and keep an eye out for ghosts! Just a short drive from Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge Castle hosts a range of events and festivals across the year. With views of the River Medway, you’ll discover the 13th-century gatehouse and learn about castle life with audio guides.
Read more: History and heritage of Kent
Love stately homes and lavish gardens? The Sevenoaks District has them in spades. Decorating the heart of the Eden Valley with medieval buildings, Edenbridge boasts history and culture framed by nature. The show-stopping headliner is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle. Drenched in romance, the 13th-century castle features the fabulous formal Italian Garden with magnificent topiary. It even has its own rose which was launched by Dame Judi Dench. Children love the intriguing mazes and history buffs delve into Tudor splendour and culture inside the castle.
The beloved Churchill family home from 1922, Chartwell is located near Westerham. As Winston Churchill’s main base during the 20s and 30s, you’ll see where he wrote and entertained throughout spectacular rooms. The National Trust property exhibits the largest collection of Churchill’s paintings, along with treasures from his day-to-day life and a landscaped hillside garden.