Heritage, Parks and Gardens
A rich history and gorgeous open spaces wait to be explored...
Folkestone’s Museum introduces the town perfectly, from its origins as a humble coastal village, through to its heyday as a fashionable seaside resort, and beyond.
Discover our rural and coastal heritage too at the Romney Marsh Visitor Centre, George’s Barn and Elham Valley Railway Museum at Peene, New Romney’s Old School, Lydd’s Town Museum, and the Old Lighthouse at Dungeness.
Our “invasion coast” has witnessed many conflicts, with Hythe, New Romney, Sandwich, Dover and Hastings uniting in the 11th century as the original Cinque Ports, and Henry VIII building Sandgate Castle in 1539.
The Napoleonic Wars introduced the sturdy Martello Towers and the Royal Military Canal between Hythe and Rye. English Heritage’s Martello 24 at Dymchurch is one of the best examples, while the Canal offers great opportunities for walking, cycling and boating, with Roman forts, and medieval castles along the way.
Folkestone and Hythe were key garrisons during the World Wars too. Folkestone’s beautifully restored Harbour Arm was a major gateway for soldiers fighting in Europe, and Shorncliffe’s military cemetery is a place for quiet contemplation.
Kent Battle of Britain Museum’s outstanding collection of warplanes, Capel’s Battle of Britain Memorial overlooking the Channel, and Brenzett’s Wartime Collection, all vividly evoke the Second World War battle for our skies.
Highlights of our sacred heritage include the skull-filled Ossuary at Hythe’s St Leonards Church; the 14 Medieval Churches of the Romney Marsh; beautiful St. Mary & St. Eanswythe’s Church in Folkestone’s historic Bayle (which still hosts the relics of St Eanswythe) and St. Oswald’s in Paddlesworth – Kent’s highest church.
The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway has connected the Marsh coastline for over 90 years, its steam and diesel engines running between historic Hythe and fascinating Dungeness, with a wonderful visitor centre at New Romney.
A fashionable clifftop promenade in Victorian times Folkestone’s “Leas” is still a lovely place for a stroll with views to France. Follow the Zig-Zag Path down to the award winning Lower Leas Coastal Park for a picnic, a walk through the beachside gardens and one of the south-east’s largest free playgrounds.
Hythe’s Royal Military Canal is a wonderful “linear park” with wild-spaces and formal gardens, walking, cycling, boat hire and plenty of place to stay eat and drink in the charming and historic town.
Look out too for National Garden Scheme open gardens with highlights including the Elham open weekend in mid-June.