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Kent’s Local History


May is Local and Community History Month, so here at Kent-Teach we are taking a step back in time and delving into Kent’s historic past! 

Did you know that Kent has historically been recognised as a county of two halves? From Julius Caesar’s arrival in Britain to a castle being burned down using just pig fat (we’re not joking!), Kent has a varied, exciting and surprising history. Read on to discover the fascinating history right on your doorstep!

From Ancient Rome to Modern Day

You may or may not be aware that the county name ‘Kent’ originates from the ancient Celtic tribe who inhabited South East England. Land under their possession covered modern day Kent plus some parts of Surrey, Sussex and Greater London. The Romans named the county ‘Cantium’ and Julius Caesar stated that the people of Cantium were the most civilised of the Celtic Tribes. As Kent-Teach is a part of Cantium Business Solutions, we’re rather proud to be associated with this name! 

Julius Caesar visited Britain twice, in both instances landing at different points in Kent. In 55BC he arrived in Deal, where his fleet was defeated by the high tidal range. He returned in 54BC and won a significant battle in the city of Canterbury. He left our shores after a short campaign, although the Romans returned in 43AD and stayed for nearly 4 centuries. 

Are you ‘of Kent’ or ‘Kentish’?

Surprisingly, there is a difference! According to various sources, if you are born on the East of the River Medway you are technically a ‘Man of Kent’ or a ‘Maid of Kent’. If you are born to the West, you are known as a ‘Kentish Man’ of a ‘Kentish Maid’. Although it is unknown where exactly this differentiation comes from, it is believed it could be due to the invasion of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes or perhaps from the Norman invasion when the Men of Kent refused to let the conqueror pass through East Kent unless they could keep certain rights. 

5 Fascinating Facts About Kent:

1) Following the Battle of Hastings, the Normans started building castles and cathedrals across the whole land. Canterbury is home to the first Norman cathedral and castle, with Rochester being second. Interestingly, no other county in Britain had two cathedrals.

2) Built in approximately 1127, Rochester Castle has been subject to siege 3 times and was partly demolished by King John in 1215. King John used the fat of 40 pigs to light a fire under the keep and demolished the southern corner of the castle!

3) Ever wondered why both Canterbury and Maidstone are home to a County Court? During the medieval period Canterbury became a ‘county corporate’, or a town with rights to act like a county. Although Maidstone is the county town of Kent today, Canterbury was once administered independently of the rest of Kent.

4) Kent’s county emblem is the white horse known as ‘Invicta’, which you’ve problem seen in various places when you’ve been out and about in Kent! The word ‘Invicta’ is Latin for ‘unconquered’, and Kent’s motto dates back to 14th October 1066 when Kent was granted the right to use the emblem of the horse and the motto by William the Conqueror.

5) Kent remains a county of two halves today. In 1972, Canterbury was drawn in County-wide administration, or Kent County Council as we know it today. This united county only actually lasted for 30 years until the Unitary Authority of Medway was formed, composed of Chatham, Rochester, Gillingham and Strood, and the county was once again divided in two! 

Sources: 

https://www.kfhs.org.uk/kent-history

https://www.visitmedway.org/attractions/rochester-castle-2436/

On the lookout for places to explore Kent’s history first-hand? Take a look at these 3 Free Museums in Kent to discover a fascinating range of historical and cultural artefacts from the best county in Britain!

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