Conservation in Kent

Conserving our world is important in every aspect, whether it’s by holding onto our architectural heritage with the countless historic buildings in Kent, through to the environmental conservation protecting our diverse wildlife. In this blog we have put together the places across Kent that are holding on tight to our heritage and environment so we and future generations can cherish it.

Photo: Josh Carter

Canterbury Cathedral

For the past couple of years and continuing today, the mother church of the Anglican Communion has been undergoing an intensive restoration project. In total there will be £24.7 million spent on developments from the Heritage Lottery Fund and from private and charitable donations, to help restore various areas including the West Towers, the Nave roof and the main entrance.  Outside at the main entrance to the Cathedral grounds there is also a new visitor centre being built. Despite these major works, there are also constant renovations happening including restoration of the stained glass and stone works – all in a day’s work of an almost 1000 year old building. An historic renovation

Wildwood conservation

Right at the heart of environmental conservation is Wildwood, just outside of Canterbury. Year round the Trust is open for everyone to come and see and learn about rare animals such as lynx and bison. However at selected dates throughout the year you can head along to courses such as Dormouse Handling and Surveying Workshop, Badger Ecology and Mammal Identification Weekend, there’s even one for Spider Identification, if you’re not too afraid of the eight legs! Each course promises to open your eyes to the world around us and help you understand our wild friends. Wild about conservation

Port Lympne & Howletts

Kent’s very own world-renowned animal conservation charity The Aspinall Foundation, has a vision to halt the extinction and further endangerment of animals in the wild. Through impressive breeding programmes at the County’s oldest and largest wild animal parks, Howletts Wild Animal Park and Port Lympne Reserve, The Aspinall Foundation can give wild animals, wherever possible, a chance to live in their natural environments. World leaders in animal husbandry and breeding programmes make the parks an ideal location to spot baby animals, whilst supporting this important mission, right here in Kent. Port Lympne Reserve has recently seen the birth of three new lion cubs whereas at Howletts, you can spot their baby elephant calf, Nusu! Don’t miss out, see real conservation in action! Take a trip to other continents

Eagle Heights

Watch the majestic bird that is the eagle and take on a new experience at Eagle Heights near Eynsford. The wildlife foundation that helps conserve wildlife here and in West Africa is home to over 100 birds of prey and is open 7 days a week for displays at noon and 3:30pm. In the school holidays and at weekends there’s even Bird Handling. If however you are a sufferer of ornithophobia then the park also has amongst other animals reptiles, huskies and meerkats for good measure! Take to new heights

Photo: Martin Havens

Knole Park

Sitting pretty toward Sevenoaks is the almost 1000 acres of parkland that is Knole Park. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, the acres of green space are vitally important to the wildlife of west Kent, particularly the deer that class it as being Kent’s last Medieval deer park. With over 500 calling the open land home, you are more than likely to stumble across a few. Once you’ve explored outside or the British summer arrives, then Knole House is a stunning almost 600-year-old building that is full of history and has just undergone its very own conservation project so it can remain for another 600. Parkland history

Hever Castle

Conservation is not just about altering or restoring the old but protecting too. At Hever Castle throughout the year a dedicated Conservation Assistant protects artefacts such as illustrated Books of Hours signed by Anne Boleyn, regularly turning the pages and monitoring humidity levels, through to covering statues in the winter guarding them from frigid temperatures. Recent work also includes repairing the terrace of the Loggia in the Italian Garden in 2018 - next time you visit, be sure to appreciate the work that goes into preserving this almost 800 year old property. A Hever of appreciation

Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park

With a history that stretches back over 300 years, the munitions factory in Faversham is one of the hidden gems of the towns story. Once providing the East India Company private army munitions, the works are now both a haven of stories of days past and wildlife such as swans and dragonflies. As you wander the remains such as the corning building and canals on the surfaced paths, there are tales and pictures of the young people and adults that worked at the factories. Munitions and wildlife

Smallhythe Place

Not many people across Kent realise but near the town of Tenterden lies Smallhythe, which back in the 16th century was a thriving seaport – hard to imagine the marshes were once under water, with all the fields and streams there. Smallhythe Place itself has a rich history with the most famous resident being the Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry. This year, the National Trust has embarked on a four year long project to conserve the costumes worn by Ellen, including recently a 19th century Chinese robe that has been installed in the Lyceum room. Theatrical history

Maidstone

Sitting just south of the North Downs, you'd expect Maidstone to have some ties with the natural world and you'd be right. Kent Wildlife Trust not only offer workshops and educational programmes, but there's a chance to hop onto a volunteer party to preserve the flora and fauna of the beautiful Downs. To keep the kids keen there's things such as pond dipping too! Not only this, but at Maidstone Museum the Egyptian collection has had an appreciable amount of work on it, including a new gallery where you will find out more about the cultures who mummified. To top it all off there's an exhibition that features sculptures made out of recycled materials of animals, bird and fish - all supported by the good cause that is the Big Cat Sanctuary! Preservation Maidstone

Photo: Nick Dougan

Chartwell and Emmetts

West Kent is known for its royal and celebrity connections and Chartwell has possibly the most famous, once being Prime Minister Churchill’s residence. Throughout its time as private house many guests stayed at the property, and the National Trust is now working on digitalising the impressive the celebrity and royal guest list and signature book between 1924 and 1965. Just moments away is Emmetts Garden which was originally planned in the 19th century by Frederick Lubbock. The grand acreage of the South Garden is now being restored by the National Trust to bring back the rare and exotic plants and create a closer representation of how Lubbock designed them – expect beautiful blooms! Charting the restoration

Hush Heath Estate

Stretching across 400 acres in the countryside near Staplehurst and Marden, the Hush Heath Estate sits on some of the county's finest outdoor space. Possibly the most historic section of the Estate is the oak woodland which itself spans 200 acres. Throughout the woodland, Hush Heath Estate has opened up the space to allow more wildlife to enjoy the forest floor and for other species of plants to thrive, and with every tree they have taken down they've planted three more to ensure future protection of this delicate landscape. On a tour of the Estate, you can tour the woodland and explore the history and conservation taking place. Ancient woodland amongst the vines

Staying in a significant property

If reading all of this has you not only craving a bit of time away exploring, but staying in and being a part of the hundreds of years past then Kent and Sussex’s Spinster’s property which has just launched could be top of the list. Sitting in the grounds of a 15th century yeoman's timber hall house, with flooring that has been up-cycled from The Cloth Hall, you’ll be marvelling at the surroundings and interior the whole stay - that’s if you’re not in the pool! Get comfy and relaxed in centuries