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Themes Explorers and Adventurers Nobel Prize Winners
Actors/Actresses and Directors Famous People Places of Interest
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Historic Events Prime Ministers
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Artists and Architects Monarchs World Heritage Sites
Composers National Parks Writers and Poets


Kent, known as the "Garden of England" due to the crops grown widely there, lies in south-eastern England on the Strait of Dover, the stretch of water separating the English Channel from the North Sea. In 1889 part of the county was incorporated into the new county of London and in 1965 further areas became part of the new Greater London.

Towns include the county seat of Maidstone, located in England's main hops-growing region; and the historic city of Canterbury.

Includes also the coastal towns of Dover, New Romney, Sandwich and Hythe four of the original five Cinque Ports (the fifth being Hastings in Sussex). From the Norman invasion until Tudor times these ports were required to supply the monarch with ships and men in times of a threat of invasion.

The White Cliffs of Dover are situated on its coast.

Actors/Actresses and Directors
The stage and film actor Trevor Howard was born in Cliftonville in 1916. Brief Encounter in 1945, The Third Man in 1949 and Sons and Lovers in 1960 were among his film successes.

Trevor Howard

Anglo-Saxons and Danes
Kent became an independent kingdom, but was later to become part of Wessex. The kingdom of Kent reached north to the river Thames, across which lay the kingdom of the East Saxons (Essex) and south and west to the kingdom of the South Saxons (Sussex).

In 449, after the Romans had withdrawn, the Saxons landed at Pegwell Bay and settled in the county.


Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Kent Downs AONB encloses the eastern half of the North Downs, a chalk ridge stretching from the Surrey border in the west to the White Cliffs of Dover in the east. They were designated an AONB in 1968.

Spreading across three ancient counties, the northern part of the High Weald is found in Kent. Designated an AONB in 1983, the area lies between the North and South Downs and contains one of the largest areas of ancient woodland remaining today in England. This woodland includes the Ashdown Forest.

Explorers and Adventurers
In 1564 William Adams was born in Gillingham. In 1600, after the Dutch ship he was piloting became stranded off Japan, he became the first Englishman to serve under a Japanese ruler. His story is the basis for James Clavell's novel "Shogun".

Famous People
The Native American Princess Pocahontas died of smallpox in a ship anchored off Gravesend in 1617. She is buried in the town.

The Quaker prison reformer Elizabeth Fry died in Ramsgate in 1845.

Elizabeth Fry

Napoleon III, the French Emperor in exile and nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, died in Chislehurst in 1873 where he had resided since 1871. He was buried in Farnborough in Hampshire.

Historic Events

Landings and Departures
It was on the Kent coast that Julius Caesar landed on his first two expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 B.C. and also when the Romans finally invaded the island in 43 B.C.


Rebellions and Plots
In 1381 the Peasants' Revolt became one of the first major rebellions in England. Rebels in Kent took Rochester Castle and then lead by Wat Tyler marched on London to protest at taxes. At Smithfield Richard II met the rebels and promised them concessions but Tyler was injured in a skirmish with the Mayor of London and later executed. The revolt which had spread to other counties in the south-east and East Anglia petered out a few weeks later.

In 1450 during the reign of Henry VI another major rebellion broke out in the county when Jack Cade lead what became known as Cade's Rebellion. As in 1381 the source of the problem was high taxes and after defeating a royalist army at Sevenoaks the rebels once again marched on London. After gaining control of the capital for a short while the rebels disbanded when they were promised pardons. Cade was killed later near Heathfield in Sussex.

In 1554 the Protestant Thomas Wyatt together with the Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane Grey, lead a rebellion from Kent against the Catholic rule of Mary I. Wyatt's Rebellion was put down in London and both leaders were executed. Lady Jane Grey - who had been imprisoned in the Tower of London since the previous year when she had been deposed after only nine days as Queen - was also executed.

Thomas Wyatt
Famous people imprisoned at the Tower of London

Notable Achievements
In 1875 Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the English Channel when he swam from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in France, a feat which took him nearly 22 hours.

In 1909 the Frenchman Louis Blériot became the first person to fly across the English Channel when he landed near Dover after taking off from Baraques on the French side.

Important Events
At Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered by four of Henry II's knights, the culmination of a power struggle between the Church and the King.

Thomas Becket

Inventors and Scientists

The physician William Harvey was born in Folkestone in 1578. In 1628 he published his groundbreaking research into the circulation of blood and the function of the heart, a work which contradicted the thinking of the day but proved to be correct.

William Harvey

In 1833 the engineer Richard Trevithick died in Dartford. In 1801 he had built the first successful steam carriage which was used first in Cornwall, the county of his birth and later in London. In 1804 he had completed the first steam locomotive which ran at the Pen-y-Darren ironworks in Wales the same year, the first time passengers had been transported by steam. He is buried in Dartford.

The naturalist and author of "The Origin of the Species", Charles Darwin, died at his home Down House in Downe (now lies within Greater London) in 1882 where he had lived since 1842. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Charles Darwin
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey
Darwin Online

Man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.
The Descent of Man (1871)


House of Normandy
House of Normandy
The last of the Norman monarchs, King Stephen died in 1154 in Dover and was buried at Faversham Abbey. He had ruled since 1135 when a controversial succession had meant him ascending the throne instead of Henry I's only surviving legitimate child, his daughter Matilda.

A long but ultimately inconclusive civil war followed between the cousins which only ended when it was agreed that on Stephen's death the succession would revert to Matilda's line and therefore her son Henry. This happened when he was crowned Henry II.

King Stephen

House of Plantagenet
House of Plantagenet
In 1236 Henry III married Eleanor of Provence at Canterbury Cathedral.

Henry III

Edward I married Margaret of France in 1299 at Canterbury Cathedral.

Edward I

House of Lancaster
House of Lancaster
Henry IV the first monarch from the House of Lancaster, was buried in Canterbury Cathedral in 1413. He had ruled since 1399.

Henry IV

House of Stuart
House of Stuart
In 1625 Charles I married his French bride Henrietta Maria at Canterbury Cathedral.

Charles I
Charles I

James II married Mary of Modena in 1673 at Dover Castle.

Mary of Modena
James II

Nobel Prize Winners

The chemist Derek Barton was born in Gravesend in 1918. In 1969 he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with the Norwegian Odd Hassel.

Twice Prime Minister in 1940-45 and 1951-55, Winston Churchill lived from 1924 until his death in 1965 at Chartwell near Westerham. Churchill took over from Neville Chamberlain in 1940 as the first Prime Minister since the Duke of Wellington to have experienced combat themselves.

Although his leadership was seen as a major factor in the Allied victory in World War Two, he lost the election held in 1945. Undaunted he remained in politics and at the age of 77 became Prime Minister for a second time. In 1953 he was awarded the
Nobel Prize for Literature for his historical and biographical writings.

Winston Churchill
Why Churchill lost the 1945 election
Second World War

Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
(Letter, 1937)

No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
(Speech at the House of Commons, 1947)

The politician Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (he was the son of the Prime Minister Marquis of Salisbury) died in 1958 in Tunbridge Wells. He had won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1937.

Viscount Cecil of Chelwood

The physicist Cecil Powell was born in Tonbridge in 1903. In 1950 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. He died in 1969 at Bellano in Italy.

Places of Interest

Hever Castle

Scotney Castle

Sissinghurst Castle

Walmer Castle

Cathedrals and Abbeys
Canterbury Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

St Augustine's Abbey

Historic Buildings
Down House, Charles Darwin's home


Notable Places
White Cliffs of Dover

Stately Homes and Palaces
Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home

Prime Ministers
Prime Ministers
For Winston Churchill see Nobel Prize Winners

Born in Hayes in 1759 William Pitt, the Younger was twice Prime Minister in 1783-1801 and 1804-06. He was the second son of the former Prime Minister the Earl of Chatham, and in 1783 was aged only 24, the youngest Prime Minister ever.

Pitt the Younger's second administration was faced with the growing Napoleonic threat to Europe and it was Pitt who formed the coalition of countries which defeated the French at the
Battle of Trafalgar. Pitt's glory was short-lived and in the same year the coalition fell apart and Napoleon was victorious at Austerlitz. Pitt died the following year and it was nearly a decade before Napoleon was eventually defeated at Waterloo in 1815.

William Pitt, the Younger
Battle of Trafalgar

William Pitt's father the Earl of Chatham (also known as William Pitt, the Elder) was Prime Minister from 1766-68. In 1778 he collapsed during a speech at the House of Lords and died a few weeks later at his home Hayes Place in Hayes. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Earl of Chatham
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.
(Speech at the House of Lords, 1770)

Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, Prime Minister from 1828-30 and 1834, died at Walmer Castle in Walmer in 1852. He is buried in St Paul's Cathedral. Although twice Prime Minister he is best remembered for his military service, especially in 1815 when he led the defeat of the French under Napoleon at the decisive Battle of Waterloo.

Duke of Wellington
Duke of Wellington

Battle of Waterloo
Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral

Born in 1916 in St Peter's near Broadstairs, Edward Heath was Prime Minister from 1970-74, the first Conservative leader not to come from a rich and privileged background. It was his government which took Britain into the then European Economic Community in 1973. After losing two elections in 1974, he lost the leadership the following year to Margaret Thatcher, whose tenure as leader heralded a different Conservative Party to the one Heath had led.

Heath, who became a fierce critic of his successor, remained an MP finally standing down a quarter of a century later in 2001, more than fifty years after first entering the House of Commons.

Edward Heath

The unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism.
(Speech at the House of Commons, 1973)

Royal Consorts and Heirs

House of Normandy
Matilda of Boulogne was buried at Faversham Abbey in 1152. Married in 1125, she had been Queen to King Stephen since 1135 when he became the last Norman monarch to rule England. In 1154 he was buried alongside her.

House of Plantagenet
Isabella of Gloucester, the first wife of King John, died in 1217, possibly being buried at Canterbury Cathedral. She had married John in 1189 but he divorced her in the same year he became king in 1199.

Edward, the Black Prince, the eldest son and heir to the throne of Edward III, was buried at Canterbury Cathedral in 1376. He was so named due to the black armour he wore at the many battles he fought including that of Poitiers when the French King John II was captured. He never acceded to the throne as he died a year before his father and so it was his son Richard II who became king in 1377.

Edward, the Black Prince

House of Lancaster
Joan of Navarre was buried alongside her husband Henry IV in Canterbury Cathedral in 1437. She became his second wife in 1403 and was queen until his death in 1413. They had no children.

House of Tudor
The birthplace of Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn is not recorded and the year of her birth ranges from 1501 through to 1507. If she was born in 1501 then she may have been born at Blickling Hall in Norfolk where her family were living at the time. But if she was born in 1507 then it's more likely that she was born at Hever Castle where her family then resided and where she would spend her childhood.

Anne became Queen in 1533, giving birth to the future
Elizabeth I the same year. Unable to provide Henry with a male heir she was accused of adultery and imprisoned in 1536 in the Tower of London. Soon afterwards she was beheaded on Tower Green and is buried in the chapel there.

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Famous people imprisoned at the Tower of London

Hever Castle has also a connection to another of Henry VIII's wives. In 1540 his fourth wife - Anne of Cleves - became the owner of the castle when she received it as part of her divorce settlement.

Anne of Cleves

World Heritage Sites

Canterbury Cathedral together with the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey (founded in 597 as England's first Benedictine monastery) and England's oldest church St Martin's, were all designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1988.

Writers and Poets
The dramatist Christopher Marlowe was born in George Street in Canterbury in 1564, the same year as William Shakespeare. Marlowe, seen as the playwright's most important predecessor, led a controversial and often violent life and his death reflected this when in 1593 he was killed in a brawl at a tavern in Deptford (now in London), reputedly in an argument over the bill. He was buried in the town.

Marlowe Society

I'll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl.

Doctor Faustus (1604)

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, hills and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love

The writer Aphra Behn was born as Aphra Johnson in 1640 in Wye. She is regarded as the first ever English language woman writer to earn a living from her craft.

Aphra Behn

The poet Robert Bridges was born at Walmer in 1844. He became Poet Laureate on the death of Alfred Austin in 1913. On his death in 1930 he was succeeded by John Masefield.

Robert Bridges
Poets laureate

The author of The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine H.G. Wells, was born in Bromley in 1866.

H.G. Wells

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (1914)

The Victorian author Charles Dickens, died at Gad's Hill near Chatham in 1870. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Charles Dickens

Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey

"It's always best on these occasions to do what the mob do."
"But suppose there are two mobs?" suggested Mr Snodgrass.
"Shout with the largest," replied Mr Pickwick.

Pickwick Papers (1837)

Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he's well dressed. There an't much credit in that.
Martin Chuzzzlewit (1844)

The poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti died in 1882 at Birchington where he was also buried. He was the brother of the poet Christina Rossetti.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

Sudden Light (1870)

The poet Siegfried Sassoon was born in 1886 at Weirleigh, the family home on the outskirts of Brenchley. He became one of the famous First World War poets whose experiences in the trenches of France drove them to write of the futility of war.

Siegfried Sassoon
First World War
Poetry Society

The writer Vita Sackville-West was born at Knole in 1892. From 1930 until her death in 1962 she lived at Sissinghurst Castle. She was buried at Withyam in Sussex.

Vita Sackville-West

The poet Alfred Austin died at Ashford in 1913 and was succeeded as Poet Laureate by Robert Bridges. He had himself succeeded Alfred Tennyson in 1896.

Alfred Austin
Poets laureate

The Polish-born Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, died in Canterbury in 1924 and is buried at the Roman Catholic cemetery. He had been born in Berdichev - then Poland now in the Ukraine - a part of the Russian Empire in 1857.

Joseph Conrad

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it.
Heart of Darkness (1902)

The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket.

The Secret Agent (1907)

The journalist and thriller writer Ian Fleming died in Canterbury in 1964. Starting with Casino Royale (published 1953) he wrote 12 novels and 2 short story collections featuring the British spy James Bond. All of the books were made into highly successful films, starting with Dr No in 1962. He is buried at Sevenhampton in Wiltshire.

Ian Fleming

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