The southeastern corner of England is Kent, known as the ‘Garden of England’. It has a generally mild climate and has a huge number of hop gardens and fruit orchards. The coastal beaches including the white cliffs of Dover are well known as well as Whitstable, Margate, Ramsgate and Deal. Dover and Folkestone are major ferry ports and the Channel Tunnel also runs from Dover as it is the shortest distance to France and the continent.
Kent celebrates some ancient customs in its annual festivals such as St Bartholomew’s Day Bun Race. The Rochester Sweeps’ Festival on Mayday celebrates when chimney sweeps were given time off and enjoyed daylight for a time! Visitors can experience the folk customs and traditions of old England with gaily dressed Morris dancing and the central figure of the festival, Jack-in-the-Green, celebrating the green shoots of spring.
Canterbury was considered the capital of the area in earlier times and has been the centre for British Christianity ever since. The magnificent Cathedral with its stained glass is a Mecca for pilgrims and tourists alike. It has a famous choirboys’ school which can be heard singing at evening vespers and other services. Canterbury is set on the River Stour and its cobbled streets and ancient cottages are encircled by the Roman City Walls. The Canterbury Museum and 14th century Westgate Towers should be on every visitor’s list.
Rochester Castle was first built by the Romans and the original foundations can still be seen in the walls of the keep. Ramsgate and Margate have been popular seaside resorts for over 250 years and are in the area of Kent known as the Isle of Thanet. Close by is Quex Park with mature woodlands for pleasant walks, and Quex Museum of natural history.
Kent’s hop growing produces some fine beer, and local vineyards also produce wine. The distinctively shaped oast houses used for drying hops are an interesting sight peculiar to Kent.