Gateway to England

Friday 25 September 2020
Bluebell Wood in Kent, England

Bluebell Woods, Kent, England; Image credit - Amanda Pilmore-Bedford

As a British diplomat serving in the “garden city of India,” often visiting Lalbagh & Cubbon park for evening walks, I can’t miss the similarities between Bengaluru & my home county Kent known as the “garden of England”.

Poppy Field, Kent, England

Poppy Field, Kent, England; Image credit - Amanda Pilmore-Bedford

Kent is one of the most beautiful counties in England and is packed with historical sites and places to visit all within easy distance from London. 

While the historic city of Canterbury is well known for its ancient cathedral and association with Chaucer many of Kent’s smaller towns are among its hidden gems.  These include Whitstable on the north coast with its oyster restaurants and fish markets, Tenterden in Weald with its winery and preserved railway and Sandwich, one of the ancient Cinque Ports which used to provide ships for the Kings of England.

For those who like getting close to nature, the North Downs long distance walking path offers stunning view south across the county, with the stretch around Wye being a favourite of mine.  There are also plenty of walks through the Weald, including the Greenstone way. The surreal scenery of Romney Marsh is unlike anywhere else in England and finishes at the Sussex border with the wild beaches at Camber Sands.

broadstairs Kent, england

Broadstairs, Kent, England; Image credit - Amanda Pilmore-Bedford

The county is also packed with historic country houses including Charles Darwin’s Down House, Churchill’s home Chartwell and Vita Saville West’s Sissinghurst, with its famous gardens, as well as the great houses of Knole, Penshurst place and Hever Castle.  The county role as the “gateway to England” from the continent also means that it has its fair share of impressive castles including those at Dover, Deal, Leeds Castle near Maidstone and Rochester castle.

Hever Castle in Kent, England

Hever Castle, Kent, England; Image credit - Amanda Pilmore-Bedford

Rochester also boasts a Normal cathedral and hosts an annual “Dickens” celebration to mark the author’s association with the city.  Nearby Chatham has the historic naval dockyards for those interested in Britain’s maritime traditions and the Royal Navy.

The term “garden of England” is actually a reference to Kent’s role as a centre for growing fruit and hops for beer.  There are plenty of orchards and hop gardens still around, but it is wine that is now making a name for itself as the climate is excellent for making sparkling wines of the Champagne variety.  So what better way to round of your trip than toasting with a glass of award winning Kentish sparkling wine?

Blog contributed by Mr. Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford, Deputy High Commissioner, Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

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