Kent, also known as ‘the garden of England’, has no shortage of beautiful scenery and exciting things to do. There are a number of famous museums, theatres and towns for your to visit. However, if you are looking for an excursion with a twist then take a look at these three out of the box historic tours!
1. Canterbury Historic River Tours
The historic Cathedral city of Canterbury sits on the river Stour and is a listed UNESCO world heritage site. Pilgrims have been flocking to Canterbury Cathedral since the middle ages (see tour number 2 to find out why) and today it is a popular tourist attraction, with many thousands of people visiting each year. The bustling city is jam packed with quirky and crooked buildings which all have ye olde world tales of the their own.
The best way to learn about the origins of some of these buildings is on one of the popular Canterbury river tours. Away from the crowded streets you can enjoy a relaxing punt along the Stour, gaining access to some fantastic views which are only accessible by boat. The tours lasts approximately 40 minutes and take in sites such as the Greyfriars Franciscan Island, Eastbridge Hospital, King’s Bridge, the Old Weavers House, King’s Mill and The Marlowe Theatre. Tours cost around £8.50 for an adult and £5.00 for a child with other concessions and offers available.
2. The Rochester to Canterbury Pilgrim Path Walking Tour
Saint Thomas Beckett was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until 1170, when he was murdered by followers of King Henry II. Beckett had been disputing with the King over the rights of the church for many years. Four knights, supposedly at the King’s command, found Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral and cut off his crown and according to an eye witness “the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral”. There is an ancient route across the North Downs known as the ‘Pilgrim’s Way’ due to the pilgrims who journeyed across it to Canterbury in order to see Beckett’s shrine and pay their respects to him.
Although you can’t walk the original route due to a modern build-up of traffic, an alternative route is available which does coincide with parts of the older route associated with Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales. Starting in Rochester, you will walk through an Area of Outstanding National Beauty to Canterbury and see ‘the garden of England’ at its best.
3. Dover Castle Underground Hospital Tour
Dover Castle sits atop of the famous white cliffs of Dover and is known as the ‘Key to England’ due to its strategic coastal position. The famous castle tunnels were added during the Napoleonic wars when a need for Barracks and storerooms arose due to Dover becoming a garrison town. The tunnels were opened in 1803 and sit 15 metres below the cliff top. At the height of the war the tunnels were home to over 2000 men and still remain the only underground barracks to have ever been built in the Britain. During the Second World War the tunnels were used as an air raid shelter, military office and underground hospital. Wounded soldiers were sent for emergency treatment to the tunnel hospital and then moved to inland hospitals when out of danger.
The castle is now owned by English Heritage who operate tours of the underground hospital area which has been reconstructed to look like it would have done in WWII. The tour takes in the operating theatre, kitchens and sleeping quarters and will give you a real feel of what life as a doctor or patient would have been like during the height of war.