Kent's hidden military history

Ria Carpenter

28th October 2019

Kent is steeped in rich, fascinating military history, making it a place of deep interest for visitors and experts alike. From strolling around towns that have stood guard of the Kent Coast during times of conflict, to exploring Britain's most-famous RAF fighter station, there are plenty of tales to tell around our charming county. With harbours that set out ships to rescue soldiers from Dunkirk beach, air raid tunnels, RAF air crafts on display in museums and the hometowns of some of the most noble men involved in the wars, Kent's captivating military history is waiting to be uncovered...

8th May 2020 is the75th anniversary of VE Day, the perfect chance to take a read and find out about Kent's rich military history history. 

English Heritage

English Heritage

From VE day in pictures, to fascinating facts, a 1940s playlist and dancing tips, English Heritage are celebrating VE Day virtually. Discover the VE Day Pack filled with everything you need to celebrate this huge anniversary right at home. 

Bromley Court Hotel

Bromley Court Hotel’s two acres of lusciously landscaped gardens show the fascinating heritage of this historic hotel. Ornate metal arches are placed in the same spot as Canadian solders who leased the building in World War One. Although through the years the hotel has been modernised, the rich history is proudly showcased in the artwork displayed on the walls.

Ashford Tank

Although Ashford has developed over the years, the Mark IV WWI tank stands proudly amongst our modernising world. Located in St. Georges square, the historical relic has stood here for almost one hundred years, providing an interesting story to visitors. The tank was presented to the town in commemoration of Ashford’s fundraising efforts to the National War Savings and, it’s the only one of its type to be on public outdoor display. 

Biggin Hill Memorial Museum

The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum holds plenty of stories as Britain’s most famous fighter station. The museum and their online collection tells the stories of the brave soldiers who served at Biggin Hill and the community that supported them during the Second World War. The journey began 100 years ago when the site was just farmland, becoming the most important airfield in the battle of Britain shortly after. 

Royal Engineers Museum

The museum tells the story of the Royal Engineers and how they helped support the British Army for over 300 years. The Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham exhibits artefacts all throughout history. With highlights including Wellington's map from Waterloo, a huge V2 rocket, a Harrier Jump Jet and much more, it’s no surprise that this wonderful collection has been designated as holding historical and international importance. The museum even holds a piece of the Berlin Wall, the largest canvas in the world, used as means for protest and as a symbol for peace. 

Military History in and around Maidstone

Maidstone and the surrounding towns hold a rich heritage. The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regimental Museum tells the story of Maidstone’s local regiment from 1756 to 1961. The unit was involved in many of the British Army’s campaigns in both the 18th and 19th Century and, the First and Second World Wars, making it of interest to visitors, locals and experts alike. While The Lashenden Air Warfare Museum, exhibits a variety of air warfare, memorabilia and aircraft used since the start of RAF aviation. 

Military History in the Isle of Thanet

Standing guard of the East Kent coast, the district of Thanet has played a huge part in Kent’s fascinating military history and offers many tales to tell. The Ramsgate Tunnels unravels the story of how a hidden underground city developed into the only Civilian Deep Shelter Air Raid Precaution Scheme authorised by Central Government. While the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum displays iconic RAF fighter planes of the Second World War which are displayed under one roof.  The Sundowner docked in Ramsgate harbour, was involved in the biggest evacuation mission of the Second World War, 'Dunkirk'. Find out more here about The Isle of Thanet on the Frontline…

Military History in Royal Tunbridge Wells

At the entrance of award-winning park Calverley Grounds is a monument to Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Commander and Chief of RAF Fighter Command from 1936-1940. Credited with winning the Battle of Britain, he lived and retired to Tunbridge Wells until his death in 1970. Along the Heritage Walking Trail there are 14 commemorative plaques which were placed to play tribute to the towns historic noble figures, including the plaque on Lord Dowding's former residence in Calverley Parkland. 

Dover Castle

Dover Castle has some significant military connections as a landmark that has stood through the Romans, past the Cold War, and still stands proudly today. Tunnels beneath the castle hold a fascinating history as the very place where Operation Dynamo - the evacuation of Dunkirk was masterminded. 

Battle of Britain Memorial

 

Here stands the heart-rending monument to aircrew who took part of the British defence in the Battle of Britain. The memorial can be found on the White Cliffs at Capel-le-Ferne (French for Chapel in the Ferns), near Folkestone. The memorial itself features a figure of a seated pilot, with the base being large and propeller shaped – another tribute to the airmen. Opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on July 9 1993, the monument stands proud as a point of tribute and reflection for visitors who want to pay respects towards the aircrew who flew in the Battle of Britain.

Chatham’s Historic Dockyard

Founded in the 16th century, Chatham Dockyard was responsible for building the strongest ships that traversed the oceans. While it shut its doors of ship production in 1984, it welcomes people to learn about how Chatham became a powerhouse of the naval industry.