Friday, 24 July 2009

Kent: Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ****



Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the River Thames estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of Medway.















1. Seven Oaks
2. Dartford
3. Gravesham
4. Tonbridge & Mallings
5. Medway
6. Maidstone
7. Tunbridge Wells
8. Swale
9. Ashford
10. Canterbury
11. Shepway
12. Thanet
13. Dover

Kent has a nominal border with France halfway through the Channel Tunnel.






Maidstone Palace on the River Medway

Maidstone is its county town and historically Rochester and Canterbury have been accorded city status though only the latter still holds it.



Kent's location between London and the continent has led to its being in the front line of several conflicts, including the Battle of Britain during World War II. East Kent was named Hell Fire Corner during the conflict.



Cinque Ports of Kent

England has relied on the county's ports to provide warships through much of the past 800 years; the Cinque Ports in the 12th–14th centuries and Chatham Dockyard in the 16th–20th centuries were of particular importance to the country's security. France can be seen clearly in fine weather from Folkestone, and the iconic White Cliffs of Dover.

Because of its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, Kent is widely known as "The Garden of England" — a name often applied when marketing the county or its produce, although other regions have tried to lay claim to the title. Major industries in the north-west of Kent have included cement, papermaking, and aircraft construction, but these are now in decline. Large parts of Kent are within the London commuter belt.


South and East Kent rely on tourism and agriculture. Coal mining has also played its part in Kent's industrial heritage
Sevenoaks Dartford Gravesham Tonbridge and Malling Medway (Unitary) Maidstone Tunbridge Wells Swale Ashford Canterbury Shepway Thanet Dover

Seven Oaks, Vine House



History

The Big Dig at Canterbury

The area has been occupied since the Palaeolithic era, as attested by finds from the quarries at Swanscombe.


Coldrum Stones and Chambers
The Medway megaliths were built during the Neolithic era. There is a rich sequence of Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman era occupation, as indicated by finds and features such as the Ringlemere gold cup and the Roman villas of the Darent valley.
The modern name of Kent is derived from the Brythonic word Cantus meaning "rim" or "border". This describes the eastern part of the current county area as a border land or coastal district.

Map of Southern Tribes

Julius Caesar had described the area as Cantium, or home of the Cantiaci in 51 BC.
The extreme west of the modern county was occupied by Iron Age tribes, known as the Regnenses. It is possible that another ethnic group occupied The Weald and East Kent. East Kent became a kingdom of the Jutes during the 5th century and was known as Cantia from about 730 and as Cent in 835. The early medieval inhabitants of the county were known as the Cantwara, or Kent people. These people regarded the city of Canterbury as their capital.

In 597, Pope Gregory I appointed Augustine as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In the previous year, Augustine successfully converted the pagan King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. The Diocese of Canterbury became Britain's first Episcopal See and has since remained Britain's centre of Christianity.

In the 11th century, the people of Kent adopted the motto Invicta, meaning "undefeated". This naming followed the invasion of Britain by William of Normandy. The Kent people's continued resistance against the Normans led to Kent's designation as a semi-autonomous County Palatine in 1067. Under the nominal rule of William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux, the county was granted similar powers to those granted in the areas bordering Wales and Scotland.






Death of Wat Tyler

During the medieval and early modern period, Kent played a major role in several of England's most notable rebellions, including the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, led by Wat Tyler, Jack Cade's Kent rebellion of 1450, and Wyatt's Rebellion of 1554 against Queen Mary I.

Sir Thomas Wyatt






Royal navy, Upnor Castle on the Medway







The Royal Navy first used the River Medway in 1547.
Royal Docks at Chatham

By the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) a small dockyard had been established at Chatham. By 1618, storehouses, a ropewalk, a drydock, and houses for officials had been built downstream from Chatham.


Dutch Raid, Battle at Chatham

By the 17th century, tensions between Britain and the powers of the Netherlands and France led to increasing military build-up in the county. Forts were built all along the coast following the raid on the Medway, a successful attack by the Dutch navy on the shipyards of the Medway towns in 1667.
The 18th century was dominated by wars with France, during which the Medway became the primary base for a fleet that could act along the Dutch and French coasts. When the theatre of operation moved to the Atlantic, this role was assumed by Portsmouth and Plymouth, with Chatham concentrating on shipbuilding and ship repair.

Ordnance Survey of East Kent











Ordnance Survey Map of Dover showing Harbour

As an indication of the area's military importance, the first Ordnance Survey map ever drawn was a one-inch map of Kent, published in 1801. Many of the Georgian naval buildings still stand.


Ordnance Survey Map of Gravesend, border between Essex and Kent showing the River Thames










The Walnut Tree Inn the Aldington smuggler headquarters
In the early 1800s, smugglers were very active on the Kent coastline. Gangs such as The Aldington Gang brought spirits, tobacco and salt to the county, and transported goods such as wool across the sea to France.

Royal Naval Museum Greenwich

In 1889, the County of London was created and the townships of Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Lee, Eltham, Charlton, Kidbrooke and Lewisham were transferred out of Kent and in 1900 the area of Penge was gained. Some of Kent, notably Dartford, is contiguous with Greater London.





V1 Flying Bomb

During World War II, much of the Battle of Britain was fought in the skies over the county. Between June 1944 and March 1945, over 10,000 V1 flying bombs, known as "Doodlebugs", were fired on London from bases in Northern France. Many were destroyed by aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, and barrage balloons, yet both London and Kent were hit by around 2,500 of these bombs.

Battle of Britain

After the war, Kent's borders changed several more times. In 1965 the London boroughs of Bromley and Bexley were created from nine towns formerly in Kent. In 1998, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, and Rainham left the administrative county of Kent to form the Unitary Authority of Medway. They have, however, remained in the ceremonial county of Kent. During this reorganisation, through an administrative oversight, the city of Rochester lost its official city status.
Climate
Kent is one of the warmest parts of Britain. On August 10 2003, in the hamlet of Brogdale near Faversham a temperature of 38.5°C (101.3°F), the hottest temperature ever recorded in Great Britain

Physical geography
Kent is in the southeastern corner of England. It borders the River Thames and the North Sea to the north, and the Straits of Dover and the English Channel to the south. France is 21 miles (34 km) across the Strait.

Map showing Straits of Dover

The major geographical features of the county are determined by a series of ridges and valleys running east-west across the county. These are the results of weathering of the Wealden dome, a dome across Kent and Sussex created by Alpine movements 10–20 million years ago. This dome consists of an upper layer of chalk above successive layers of upper greensand, upper clay, lower greensand, lower clay, and red sandstone. The ridges and valleys formed when the exposed clay eroded faster than the exposed chalk, greensand, or red sandstone.

Geological map of southeast England, showing a concentric circular pattern formed by the weathering of the Wealden dome.
Sevenoaks, Maidstone, Ashford, and Folkestone are built on greensand, while Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are built on red sandstone. Dartford, Gravesend, the Medway towns, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Canterbury, Deal, and Dover are built on chalk. The easterly section of the Wealden dome has been eroded away by the sea, and cliffs such as the white cliffs of Dover are present where a chalk ridge known as the North Downs meets the coast. Spanning Dover and Westerham is the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.




The Wealden dome is a Mesozoic structure lying on a Palaeozoic foundation, which usually creates the right conditions for coal formation.

Coal can be found in East Kent roughly between Deal, Canterbury, and Dover. The coal measures within the Westphalian Sandstone are deep (below 800 - 1300 ft or approximately 250 m – 400 m) and subject to flooding. They occur in two major troughs, which extend under the English Channel where similar coalfields are located.
Seismic activity has occasionally been recorded in Kent, though the epicentres were offshore. In 1382 and 1580 there were two earthquakes exceeding 6.0 on the Richter Scale. In 1776, 1950, and on 28 April 2007 there were earthquakes of around 4.3. The 2007 earthquake caused physical damage in Folkestone.

Sandstone Rocks at Wellingstone

The coastline of Kent is continuously changing, due to tectonic uplift and coastal erosion.
Until about 960, the Isle of Thanet was an island, separated by the Wantsum channel, formed around a deposit of chalk; over time, the channels silted up with alluvium. Similarly Romney Marsh and Dungeness have been formed by accumulation of alluvium.


White Chalk Cliffs along the Coast Line






Dover built on Chalk

Kent's principal river, the River Medway, rises near East Grinstead in Sussex and flows eastwards to Maidstone.

Here it turns north and breaks through the North Downs at Rochester, then joins the estuary of the River Thames as its final tributary near Sheerness. The Medway is some 70 miles (113 km) long. The river is tidal as far as Allington lock, but in earlier times, cargo-carrying vessels reached as far upstream as Tonbridge. The Medway has captured the head waters of other rivers such as the River Darent. Other rivers of Kent include the River Stour in the east.

Economy

Converted oast at Frittenden.

The average hours worked per week by residents of Kent were 43.1 for males and 30.9 for females. Their industry of employment was 17.3% retail, 12.4% manufacturing, 11.8% real estate, 10.3% health and social work, 8.9% construction, 8.2% transport and communications, 7.9% education, 6.0% public administration and defence, 5.6% finance, 4.8% other community and personal service activities, 4.1% hotels and restaurants, 1.6% agriculture, 0.8% energy and water supply, 0.2% mining, and 0.1% private households. This is higher than the whole of England for construction and transport/communications, and lower for manufacturing.
Kent is sometimes known as the "Garden of England" for its abundance of orchards and hop gardens. Distinctive hop-drying buildings called oasts are common in the countryside, although many have been converted into dwellings. Nearer to London, market gardens also flourish.
However, in recent years, there has been a significant drop in agriculture, and industry and services are increasing their utilization of the area. This is illustrated by the following table of economic indicator gross value added (GVA) between 1995 and 2000 (figures are in millions of British Pounds Sterling).


North Kent is heavily industrialised with cement-making at Northfleet and Cuxton, brickmaking at Sittingbourne, shipbuilding on the Medway and Swale, engineering and aircraft design and construction at Rochester, chemicals at Dartford and papermaking at Swanley, and oil refining at Grain.


Oil Refinery at Grain




Sheerness with steel mini Mill in the background

and Queenborough Creek.




There are two nuclear power stations at Dungeness, although the older one, built in 1965, was closed at the end of 2006.



Dungeness power Station and New Lighthouse

Cement-making, papermaking, and coal-mining were important industries in Kent during the 19th and 20th century. Cement came to the fore in the 19th century when massive building projects were undertaken. The ready supply of chalk and huge pits between Stone and Gravesend bear testament to that industry. There were also other workings around Burham on the tidal Medway.

Grain Tower in the Estuary

Kent's original paper mills stood on streams like the River Darent, tributaries of the River Medway, and on the River Stour. Two 18th century mills were on the River Len and at Tovil on the River Loose. In the late 19th century huge modern mills were built at Dartford and Northfleet on the River Thames and at Kemsley on The Swale.


Water Mill at Westwell

In pre-industrial times, almost every village and town had its own windmill or watermill, with over 400 windmills known to have stood at some time.






Windmill

Twenty eight survive within the county today, plus two replica mills and a further two in that part of Kent now absorbed into London. All the major rivers in the county were used to power watermills.

Coal Trucks at Tilmanstone

From about 1900, several coal pits operated in East Kent. The Kent coalfield was mined during the 20th century at several collieries, including Chislet, Tilmanstone, Betteshanger, and the Snowdown Colliery, which ran from 1908 to 1986.
The west of the county (including Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells & Sevenoaks) is generally more affluent than the east, especially when compared to the coastal regions of Folkestone, Dover & Thanet. This is partly due to the former's proximity to London, making it prime "commuter belt" and the latter's geographic extremities. The eagerly awaited CTRL 2009 rail service, using the high speed Channel Tunnel line to bring coastal areas' travel times to London down to around an hour, is hoped to further regeneration.

Ramsgate Harbour






Margate is a holiday centre





Arts
Canterbury's religious role gave rise to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a key development in the English language.





Charles dicken lived in one of these terrace houses

The father of novelist Charles Dickens worked at the Chatham Dockyard; in many of his books, the celebrated novelist featured the scenery of Chatham, Rochester, and the Cliffe marshes. The landscape painter J. M. W. Turner spent part of his childhood in the town of Margate in East Kent, and regularly returned to visit it throughout his life. The East Kent coast inspired many of his works, including some of his most famous seascapes. During the late 1930s, Nobel Prize-awarded novelist William Golding worked as a teacher at Maidstone Grammar School, where he met his future wife Ann Brookfield.

1 comment:

  1. ...Oil refinery at Grain...
    I didn't realise that Kent had snowy crags.

    ReplyDelete