Kent Travel Guide - Historic Towns and Villages
Historic towns and villages in Kent
This page Lullingstone - Ramsgate
A small hamlet near Eynsford, Lullingstone packs a lot of history into a small space. First there is Lullingstone Roman Villa, one of the best preserved Roman residences in Britain. Nearby is Lullingstone Castle, a 15th century fortified manor set in superb gardens. In the grounds of the castle is the lovely old church of St Botolph, which is largely 14th century but sits on foundations thought to date to at least the Saxon era. The interior boasts a 16th century Flemish rood screen, and an unusual wall-mounted font.
Lydd is the most southerly town in Kent, located on high ground that was once an island in Romney Marsh. Indeed, the parish church is often referred to as the Cathedral of the Marsh. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is the longest in Kent at 200 feet in length. It is primarily 14th century, but incorporates early Saxon remains that may date to the 8th century or even earlier. In the churchyard is the grave of Thomas Edgar, who served at Lieutenant with Captain Cook. Experiments at Lydd in 1888 led to the development of the explosive called Lyddite.
A village near Folkestone, Lyminge boasts a lovely Saxon church dating to at least 975 AD. But the history of Lyminge goes back much further, at least to the Roman period, when a villa was built close to the site of the current parish church. Queen Ethelburga of Northumbria founded a nunnery here in about 633 AD.
With a history stretching back to Roman times, Lympne has a lot to offer visitors. The Romans built a a port at the base of the cliffs here, and also built a road, known as Stone Street, running along the cliffs to Canterbury. At the foot of the cliffs is the fortress known as Studfall, or Stutfall, Castle, built by the Romans to guard to port. This should not be confused with Lympne Castle, a 15th century moated manor built on the site of a Roman tower. The parish church is a lovely Norman building with a squat tower and flying buttresses supporting the walls. Somewhat newer is Howlett's Wild Animal Park, an 80 acre family attraction featuring animals from around the world.
A popular town on the River Medway in north east Kent, Maidstone is an administrative centre and the foremost market town in the county. The remains of a 14th century archbishop's palace built by the Archbishops of Canterbury stand beside the parish church. The remains of the palace banqueting hall still stand. The old palace stables now house the Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages. Maidstone museum displays finds of local archaeology - and there are a lot, for the area was heavily settled by the Romans. There are also iguanodon bones, for that dinosaur was first discovered near Maidstone in the Victorian period.
New Romney was one of the medieval Cinque Ports, a league of coastal towns granted special privileges by the crown in return for providing coastal defenses against foreign invasion. The River Rother changed its course, however, leaving New Romney well inland of the sea. Take a ride on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, a miniature rail line with 1/3 size engines and coaches running between Hythe and Dungeness. A pair of 13th century houses stand on West Street, beside a row of 17th century almshouses. The parish church is of Norman origin, and has boat hooks built into its outer walls; a testament to how close New Romney once was to the sea!
A pretty little hamlet on the River Rother, at the time of the Domesday Book survey Newenden was once one of only two villages in Kent with the right to hold a market. There was a pre-Roman hillfort near the current village, but the earliest reference to Newenden is in 791 AD, when King Offa of Mercia granted the manor to the monks of Christchurch Priory in Canterbury.
A beautiful, historic village astride the River Medway, Penshurst is famous for sumptuous Penshurst Place, an Elizabethan manor set in superb gardens. Most people come to see Penshurst Place and don't stop to see the village itself, which is a real shame, because Penshurst is a lovely, peaceful place, with everything that makes a traditional English village so special. Chiddingstone Castle is close by, as are Hever Castle and the stately home and garden at Groombridge Place.
The village of Pluckley is known for two things; one of which it is rather proud of, and the other most inhabitants wish would go away. The first is that the atractive little village was the film location for the popular television series The Darling Buds of May. The second is a rather unwelcome reputation as the most haunted place in Britain. The Pluckley ghosts are the stuff of legend.
An attractive seaside town, popular as a resort in Victorian times, later home to artists from Van Gogh to architect AW Pugin. Pugin built The Grange for himself, and St Augustine's church, where he is buried. St Laurence's church dates to Norman times. Outside Ramsgate is Pegwell Bay, where a cross marks the site of St Augustine's landing in 596AD.
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