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Great days out for culture vultures in Kent

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.


Canterbury

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.


Tunbridge Wells

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.

Scotney Castle in Kent

Scotney Castle boasts a fascinating history

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 


Sevenoaks District

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.

Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent

Visit Hever Castle & Gardens, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn

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.

Dover

Best known for its soaring white cliffs, Dover also boasts a majestic castle that dates back 900 years. Immerse yourself in the King’s Court life in the medieval royal palace. Watch costumed performers from the reign of King Henry II as they bring the era to life. Deep beneath the iconic white cliffs, you’ll explore the atmospheric Secret Wartime Tunnels.

Secret Wartime Tunnels beneath Dover Castle in Kent

Take a step back in time with a trip to the Secret Wartime Tunnels

Head to the heart of town to discover one of Kent’s oldest museums. Originally founded in 1836, the Dover Museum displays the history of the port and town from the Stone Age to the Saxons, and it also hosts the Dover Bronze Age Boat Gallery. Visit the ruins of the Roman Painted House to continue your day out exploring Dover’s past. It was built in 200 AD and now showcases murals and excavations.


Chatham

If you love maritime history, you’ll adore Chatham. The Historic Dockyard features no less than three historic warships, along with a collection of lifeboats and a working Victorian ropery. It was one of Britain’s most significant centres of warship building for more than four centuries. Now, it’s the world’s most complete dockyard of the Age of Sail.

Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent

If you love maritime history, you’ll adore Chatham Historic Dockyard

Charged with defending Chatham Dockyard, Fort Amherst is Britain’s biggest Napoleonic fort. Check out around two miles of ramparts and barracks before heading underground. You’ll weave through a maze of underground tunnels on the Fort Amherst Tunnel Tour, with expert guides to explain defence mechanisms and the lives of soldiers.


Elsewhere

Sit back, relax and soak up the stunning countryside views on a steam train journey around Kent. Spa Valley Railway runs weekend and Bank Holiday trips between Tunbridge Wells West Station and Eridge Stations. Kent and East Sussex Railway operates from Tenterden across the border into Sussex. In the school holidays, thrill the kids with special Thomas the Tank Engine rides.


Read more

Top 10 reasons to visit Kent

How to spend 48 hours in Kent 

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Image credits: ©Canterbury Museums and Galleries; English Heritage/Jim Holden; PhotoVision/Sandy Knight/valeryegorov/stock.adobe.com; Michael D Beckwith/Unsplash

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