Visit Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle is one of the most photogenic stately piles in the UK. Rising from the placid waters of the River Len, it looks like it’s straight from the pages of a fairy tale.
The interior is an eclectic mix of styles and periods, which reflects the building’s varied history, while the landscaped grounds are home to a menagerie of waterfowl, including the black swans of the castle’s logo.
Get out on the town in Kent
Step back to ye olde Britain in Rochester, home to an ornate cathedral and a ruined Norman castle. Due to its strategic location overlooking the River Medway, Rochester has been settled since Roman times.
Trawl the characterful High Street, complete with half-timbered buildings and old-fashioned sweet shops, before taking a tour of the sites linked to the life and books of local lad Charles Dickens.
Visit Canterbury Cathedral
Head to Canterbury Cathedral, following in the footsteps of the pilgrims in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
The tawdry tales of life and lust do much to lighten up the Dark Ages when this fabled seat of the Anglican church became a shrine to Thomas Becket’s literary heritage.
In Dickens’ Great Expectations, Miss Havisham lives among the debris of her wedding day in a mansion based on Restoration House in Rochester.
Satis House, the name used in the novel, is just around the corner. It was so named after Elizabeth I stayed there and described her visit as ‘satisfactory’.
See the white cliffs of Dover
Nothing says England like the white cliffs of Dover. Check out the tunnels under Dover Castle where the Dunkirk evacuation was planned. And if you’ve had your fill of Kent, then get on a ferry here and go to France.
Explore the famous oast houses of Kent
Visit the oast houses – where hops were dried out – and learn about the Cockneys who arrived in droves every summer for the picking season. The earliest of these houses is in Cranbrook.
Discover the home of Anne Boleyn
If you’re a fan of The Tudors, see the prayer books of Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s ill-fated second wife), or lose yourself in the maze at her idyllic childhood home Hever Castle.
What you need to know about Kent
When to go: Kent is beautiful at any time. Leeds Castle hosts events all through the year, including ice skating in winter.
Getting there: Kent is easily reached from London via the A2 (Rochester) and M20 (Maidstone). See nationalexpress.com for coach services. Southeastern operates trains from Charing Cross and London Victoria.
Getting around: Hire a car to explore the countryside. The bigger towns are served by trains.
Going out: A beer costs about £3.50.
Accommodation: Hotel rooms are available from £25 in Rochester.
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