Kent — the Garden of EnglandCategory: Land + People
By W. J. Rood and А. H. Rood
Kent is the nearest English county to the Continent. Only twenty miles of water separate it from France. On a clear day it is possible to see the white French cliffs across the Strait of Dover. Is it any wonder that Kent has been the scene of so many important events in English history? The Romans, led by Julius Caesar, first landed in Kent. Later came three shiploads of Saxons under Hengist and Horsa. Then in 597 came Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory to preach Christianity to the people.
To-day it is the land first seen by most of our visitors from Europe, and it is the county best known to them, as they pass through it on their way to London.
Kent is a peninsula in the south-east corner of England. On the north is the estuary of the Thames and the North Sea, the Strait of Dover, and the English Channel.
No place in Kent is far from the sea. The coast of Kent has changed very much owing to the inroads of the sea. Slowly but surely the waves wash away the softer rocks, in some parts at the rate of as much as three feet a year.
There is a range of low hills running east and west. These hills are called the North Downs, and they really form the backbone of Kent. To the north of the Downs is a narrow strip of low land across which flow many streams to feed the river Thames. Chief among these streams is the river Medway, which has carved for itself a wide valley through the chalk downs.
To the south of the North Downs is a district called the Weald. In ancient days this was a forest; in fact, the word “weald” means “forest”. It was the abode of wild animals like the deer, wild pigs, and even wolves. To-day most of the forest has disappeared. South of the Weald is a large stretch of very low land called Romney Marsh. Once it was under water, but it has now been drained, and a high sea-wall protects it from the sea. This is very necessary, for at high tide the sea is often eight or nine feet above the level of the marsh.
Loads of cabbages, cauliflowers, onions, turnips, tomatoes, fruit, and flowers grown in the market-gardens of Kent are being taken to Covent Garden Market in London.
The North Downs are covered with short grass, which feeds thousands of sheep. So besides vegetables, fruit, and flowers, Kent gives us mutton and wool.
The Weald is the centre of the Kent hop-gardens and apple-and cherry orchards. Autumn is the time to visit Kent hop-gardens. Thousands of men, women, and boys and girls are then busy gathering the fruit of the hop-plant. The hops are gathered into large baskets, and then taken to be dried in specially built kilns called oast-houses. We can see many of these queer-looking buildings in Kent. They look like huge brick cones, about twice as high as a cottage. Built on the top of the cone is a huge cowl, which rotates with the wind.
From The British Isles, Lnd., 1933.