Our Favourite Attractions in Kent
Published: Sunday 18th Oct 2015
Written by: Sally Sims
Known for its wonderful gardens and great beaches, Kent is also home to a host of interesting and entertaining attractions guaranteed to enhance your holiday. From historic cathedrals and miniature railways to wildlife parks and magical grottos, here’s eight of our favourite attractions in Kent.
Mother church of the worldwide Anglican movement, Canterbury Cathedral is a living, working church but also a magnificent historic building and revered holy place. A world heritage site, its history goes back to the 6th century and since 1170 when Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral. It has attracted pilgrims from far and wide, as recorded in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. With beautiful medieval stained glass windows, the cathedral can be enjoyed as part of a visit to the wonderful city of Canterbury.
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park is one of the largest wild animal parks in the UK with plenty of wide open spaces for the animals to roam. What sets this park apart is the commitment to conservation and the breeding of endangered species. Part of the Aspinall Foundation, creatures to view include big cats, wild dogs , elephants and rhinos as well as the world’s largest gorilla enclosure.
Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway
A trip on the miniature Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, the world’s smallest public railway, is a must for holidaymakers heading for south east Kent. Running 13 ½ miles from picturesque Hythe to the fishermen's cottages and lighthouses at Dungeness – all the stations en route are within walking distance of the sea. At New Romney Station there is wonderful model train exhibition with several displays featuring intricate landscapes and criss-crossing train tracks.
Dungeness and Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage
If you stop at Dungeness – one of the biggest shingle landscapes in the world – take time out to stroll around the odd assortment of cottages and fishing boats that populate this other-worldly terrain. In the shadow of a disused power station you will find Prospect Cottage – the beach hut home of late film director Derek Jarman – and his famous garden of driftwood, sculptures and beach plants. While the property is not open to the public, people are free to wander around and enjoy this unique place.
The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth 1, Hever Castle dates back as far as the 13th century. With a moat and drawbridge, and displays armour and torture devices, Hever is everything you could want from a castle. Its famous gardens are a must see and include a rose garden, giant topiary chess set, yew maze, boating lake and children’s playground.
The Shell Grotto - Margate
Home to 4.6million shells, 70ft of winding underground passages and a rectangular chamber featuring a 2,000 sq ft shell mosaic, the Shell Grotto in Margate is a bizarre and wonderful place. It is said it was discovered by a small boy who was helping his father dig a duck pond in the 1830s. No-one knows what it is. An ancient temple? A meeting place for a secret sect? But one thing is for sure, it’s an incredible work of art that has to be seen.
The Hop Farm Country Park
Many people used to travel to Kent to spend their holidays picking hops, and the history of hop farming and brewing in the county is retold at The Hop Farm Country Park near Paddock Wood, which has the largest collection of oast houses in the world and recreated Victorian streets. There are many attractions for children from indoor and outdoor play areas, birds of prey displays and funfair rides.
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
Kent is known as the Garden of England and near Sevenoaks, Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is a special place indeed. Created by John Rogers, a friend of Charles Darwin, the location’s sheltered position has allowed a fine collection of Japanese maples, rhododendrons and azaleas to develop. The woodland is carpeted with bluebells in spring and the Rose Garden becomes a riot of colour in the summer. There’s den building and an adventure playground to keep the children occupied as well.