AskDefine | Define Kent

Dictionary Definition



1 a county in southeastern England on the English Channel; the first to be colonized by the Romans
2 United States painter noted for his woodcuts (1882-1971) [syn: Rockwell Kent]ken


1 range of what one can know or understand; "beyond my ken" [syn: cognizance]
2 the range of vision; "out of sight of land" [syn: sight] [also: kent, kenning, kenned]kent See ken

User Contributed Dictionary

see kent



Cent, from Cantia, from Celtic *Cantus probably meaning ‘border region, coastal region’.


  • /kɛnt/
    Rhymes with: -ɛnt

Proper noun

  1. A maritime county in the southeast of England bordered by Sussex, Surrey, London, the North Sea and the English Channel.
  2. A surname derived from the place name.
  3. A given name transferred from the surname; of mostly American usage, but never popular.


the English maritime county


Proper noun

  1. A given name borrowed from English, interpreted as a short form of Kenneth.


Proper noun

  1. A given name borrowed from English and interpreted as a short form of Kenneth.


Alternative spellings


Borrowed from English in early 20th century , at the same time as Kenneth. Generally taken for a short form of Kenneth in Scandinavia.

Proper noun

  1. A given name popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

Extensive Definition

Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the River Thames estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of Medway. Kent has a nominal border with France halfway through the Channel Tunnel. Maidstone is its county town and historically Rochester and Canterbury have been accorded city status though only the latter still holds it.
Kent's location between London and the continent has led to its being a front line of several conflicts, including the Battle of Britain during World War II. East Kent was named Hell Fire Corner during the conflict. England has relied on the county's ports to provide warships through much of the past 800 years; the Cinque Ports in the 12th–14th centuries and Chatham Dockyard in the 16th–20th centuries were of particular importance to the country's security. France can be seen clearly in fine weather from the iconic White Cliffs of Dover
Because of its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, Kent is widely known as "The Garden of England" — a name often applied when marketing the county or its produce, although other regions have tried to lay claim to the title.
Major industries in the north-west of Kent have included cement, papermaking, and aircraft construction, but these are now in decline. South and East Kent rely on tourism and agriculture.


The area has been occupied since the Palaeolithic era, as attested by finds from the quarries at Swanscombe. The Medway megaliths were built during the Neolithic era. There is a rich sequence of Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman era occupation, as indicated by finds and features such as the Ringlemere gold cup and the Roman villas of the Darent valley.
The modern name of Kent is derived from the Brythonic word Cantus meaning "rim" or "border". This describes the eastern part of the current county area as a border land or coastal district. Julius Caesar had described the area as Cantium, or home of the Cantiaci in 51 BC.
The extreme west of the modern county was occupied by Iron Age tribes, known as the Regnenses. It is possible that another ethnic group occupied The Weald and East Kent. East Kent became a kingdom of the Jutes during the 5th century and was known as Cantia from about 730 and as Cent in 835. The early medieval inhabitants of the county were known as the Cantwara, or Kent people. These people regarded the city of Canterbury as their capital.
In 597, Pope Gregory I appointed Augustine as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In the previous year, Augustine successfully converted the Pagan King Æthelberht of Kent to Christianity. The Diocese of Canterbury became Britain's first Episcopal See and has since remained Britain's centre of Christianity.
In the 11th century, the people of Kent adopted the motto Invicta, meaning "undefeated". This naming followed the invasion of Britain by William of Normandy. The Kent people's continued resistance against the Normans led to Kent's designation as a semi-autonomous County Palatine in 1067. Under the nominal rule of William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux, the county was granted similar powers to those granted in the areas bordering Wales and Scotland. During the medieval and early modern period, Kent played a major role in several of England's most notable rebellions, including the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, led by Wat Tyler, Jack Cade's Kent rebellion of 1450, and Wyatt's Rebellion of 1553 against Queen Mary I.
The Royal Navy first used the River Medway in 1547. By the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) a small dockyard had been established at Chatham. By 1618, storehouses, a ropewalk, a drydock, and houses for officials had been built downstream from Chatham.
By the 17th century, tensions between Britain and the powers of the Netherlands and France led to increasing military build-up in the county. Forts were built all along the coast following the raid on the Medway, a successful attack by the Dutch navy on the shipyards of the Medway towns in 1667.
The 18th century was dominated by wars with France, during which the Medway became the primary base for a fleet that could act along the Dutch and French coasts. When the theatre of operation moved to the Atlantic, this role was assumed by Portsmouth and Plymouth, with Chatham concentrating on shipbuilding and ship repair. As an indication of the area's military importance, the first Ordnance Survey map ever drawn was a one-inch map of Kent, published in 1801. Many of the Georgian naval buildings during this time still stand.
In the early 1800s, smugglers were very active on the Kent coastline. Gangs such as The Aldington Gang brought spirits, tobacco and salt to the county, and transported goods such as wool across the sea to France.
In 1889, the County of London was created and the townships of Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Lee, Eltham, Charlton, Kidbrooke and Lewisham were transferred out of Kent and in 1900 the area of Penge was gained.
During World War II, much of the Battle of Britain was fought in the skies over the county. Between June 1944 and March 1945, over 10,000 V1 flying bombs, known as "Doodlebugs", were fired on London from bases in Northern France. Many were destroyed by aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, and barrage balloons, yet both London and Kent were hit by around 2,500 of these bombs.
After the war, Kent's borders changed several more times. In 1965 the London boroughs of Bromley and Bexley were created from nine towns formerly in Kent. In 1998, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, and Rainham left the administrative county of Kent to form the Unitary Authority of Medway. They have, however, remained in the ceremonial county of Kent. During this reorganisation, through an administrative oversight, the city of Rochester lost its official city status.

Physical geography

Kent is at the southeastern end of England. It borders the River Thames and the North Sea to the north, and the Straits of Dover and the English Channel to the south. France is across the Strait.
The major geographical features of the county are determined by a series of ridges and valleys running east-west across the county. These are the results of weathering to the Wealden dome, a dome across Kent and Sussex created by Alpine movements 10–20 million years ago. This dome consists of an upper layer of chalk above subsequent layers of upper greensand, upper clay, lower greensand, lower clay, and red sandstone. The ridges and valleys formed as the exposed clay eroded faster than the exposed chalk, greensand, or red sandstone.
Sevenoaks, Maidstone, Ashford, and Folkestone are built on greensand, The easterly section of the Wealden dome has been eroded away by the sea, and cliffs such as the white cliffs of Dover are present where a chalk ridge known as the North Downs meets the coast. Spanning Dover and Westerham is the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Wealden dome is a Mesozoic structure lying on a Palaeozoic foundation, which usually creates the right conditions for coal formation. This is found in East Kent roughly between Deal, Canterbury, and Dover. The coal measures within the Westphalian Sandstone are deep (below 244 m – 396 m) and subject to flooding. They occur in two major troughs, which extend under the English Channel where similar coalfields are located.
Seismic activity has occasionally been recorded in Kent, though the epicentres were offshore. In 1382 and 1580 there were two earthquakes exceeding 6.0 on the Richter Scale. In 1776, 1950, and on 28 April 2007 there were earthquakes of around 4.3. The 2007 earthquake caused physical damage in Folkestone.
The coastline of Kent is continuously changing, due to tectonic uplift and coastal erosion. Until about 960, the Isle of Thanet was an island, separated by the Wantsum channel, formed around a deposit of chalk; over time, the channels silted up with alluvium. Similarly Romney Marsh and Dungeness have been formed by accumulation of alluvium. The river is tidal as far as Allington lock, but in earlier times, cargo-carrying vessels reached as far upstream as Tonbridge. The Medway has captured the head waters of other rivers such as the River Darent. Other rivers of Kent include the River Stour in the east.


As of the 2001 UK census, Kent, including Medway, had 1,579,206 residents and 646,308 households, of which 1,329,718 residents and 546,742 households were within the administrative boundaries. Of those households, 48.9% were married couples living together, 9.0% were co-habiting couples and 8.7% were lone parents; 28.0% of households consisted of individuals, 14.6% had someone of pensionable age living alone, and 30.4% included children aged under 16 or a person aged 16 to 18 who was in full-time education. For every 100 females, there were 93.9 males.
The ethnicity of the Kent was 96.5% White, 0.9% mixed race, 0.3% Chinese, 1.7% other Asian and 0.4% Black. The place of birth for residents was 94.2% United Kingdom, 0.7% Republic of Ireland, 0.5% Germany, 0.9% other Western Europe countries, 0.3% Eastern Europe, 0.8% Africa, 0.6% Far East, 0.9% South Asia, 0.2% Middle East, 0.4% North America, 0.1% South America and 0.3% Oceania. Religion was recorded as 74.6% Christian, 0.7% Sikh, 0.6% Muslim, 0.4% Hindu, 0.2% Buddhist and 0.1% Jewish, while 15.2% were recorded as having no religion, 0.3% had an alternative religion, and 7.8% did not state their religion.


Kent County Council (KCC) and its 12 district councils administer most of the county (3352 km²), while the Medway unitary authority administers the more densely populated remainder (192 km²). Together they have around 300 town and parish councils. Kent County Council's headquarters are in Maidstone, while Medway's offices are in Strood and Gillingham.
As of the 2005 county council elections, Kent County Council was controlled by the Conservative Party; 57 of the Council's 84 seats were held by the Conservatives, 21 by the Labour Party, 6 by the Liberal Democrats and 1 by an Independent. As of the 2007 local elections, Medway Council was controlled by the Conservatives; 33 of the Council's 55 seats were held by the Conservatives, 13 by the Labour Party, 8 by the Liberal Democrats and 1 by an Independent. All of Kent's district councils were controlled by the Conservatives except for Ashford Borough Council, which was in no overall control.
At the national level, Kent is represented in Parliament by 17 MPs, 10 of whom are Conservative and 7 are Labour. Kent is in the European Parliament constituency of South East England, which elects ten members of the European Parliament.


As of the 2001 UK census, employment statistics for the residents in Kent, including Medway, were as follows: 41.1% in full-time employment, 12.4% in part-time employment, 9.1% self-employed, 2.9% unemployed, 2.3% students with jobs, 3.7% students without jobs, 12.3% retired, 7.3% looking after home or family, 4.3% permanently sick or disabled, and 2.7% economically inactive for other reasons. Of residents aged 16–74, 16% had a higher education qualification or the equivalent, compared to 20% nationwide.
Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
includes energy and construction
includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
North Kent is heavily industrialised with cement-making at Northfleet and Cuxton, brickmaking at Sittingbourne, shipbuilding on the Medway and Swale, engineering and aircraft design and construction at Rochester, chemicals at Dartford and papermaking at Swanley, and oil refining at Grain.
Cement-making, papermaking, and coal-mining were important industries in Kent during the 19th and 20th century. Cement came to the fore in the 19th century when massive building projects were undertaken. The ready supply of chalk and huge pits between Stone and Gravesend bear testament to that industry. There were also other workings around Burham on the tidal Medway.
Kent's original paper mills stood on streams like the River Darent, tributaries of the River Medway, and on the River Stour. Two 18th century mills were on the River Len and at Tovil on the River Loose. In the late 19th century huge modern mills were built at Dartford and Northfleet on the River Thames and at Kemsley on The Swale. In pre-industrial times, almost every village and town had its own windmill or watermill, with over 400 windmills known to have stood at some time. Twenty eight survive within the county today, plus two replica mills and a further two in that part of Kent now absorbed into London. All the major rivers in the county were used to power watermills.
From about 1900, several coal pits operated in East Kent. The Kent coalfield was mined during the 20th century at several collieries, including Chislet, Tilmanstone, Betteshanger, and the Snowdown Colliery, which ran from 1908 to 1986.


Kent has provided inspiration for several notable writers and artists. Canterbury's religious role gave rise to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a key development in the English language. The father of novelist Charles Dickens worked at the Chatham Dockyard; in many of his books, the celebrated novelist featured the scenery of Chatham, Rochester, and the Cliffe marshes. The landscape painter J. M. W. Turner spent part of his childhood in the town of Margate in East Kent, and regularly returned to visit it throughout his life. The East Kent coast inspired many of his works, including some of his most famous seascapes. During the late 1930s, Nobel Prize-awarded novelist William Golding worked as a teacher at Maidstone Grammar School, where he met his future wife Ann Brookfield. In addition, the highly successful current pop production team Xenomania work out of a converted rectory in Kent.



With the Roman invasion, a road network was constructed to connect London to the Channel ports of Dover, Lympne and Richborough. The London–Dover road was Watling Street. These roads are now approximately the A2, B2068, A257, and the A28. The A2 runs through Dartford (A207), Gravesend, Rochester, Canterbury and Dover; the A20 through Eltham, Wrotham, Maidstone, Charing, Ashford. Hythe, Folkestone and Dover; the A21 around Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and on to Hastings in East Sussex. This and the London and Greenwich Railway later merged into South Eastern Railways (SER). By the 1850s, SER's networks had expanded to Ashford, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells, and the Medway towns. SER's major London termini were London Bridge, Charing Cross, and Cannon Street. Kent also had a second major railway, the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR). Originally the East Kent Railway in 1858, it linked the northeast Kent coast with London terminals at Victoria and Blackfriars.
The two companies merged in 1899, forming the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR). In the aftermath of World War I, the government's Railways Act 1921 grouped railway companies together; the SECR joined neighbouring London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR) and London and South Western Railway (LSWR) to form the Southern Railway. Following financial difficulties, Connex lost the franchise and was replaced by Southeastern.
The Channel Tunnel was completed in 1994 and High Speed 1 in November 2007 with a London terminus at St Pancras. A new station, Ebbsfleet International, opened between Dartford and Gravesend, serving northern Kent. .The high speed lines will be utilised to provide a faster train service to coastal towns like Ramsgate and Folkestone. This station is in addition to the existing station at Ashford International, which has suffered a massive cut in service as a result.
In addition to the "mainline" railways, there are several light, heritage, and industrial railways in Kent. There are three heritage, standard gauge railways; Spa Valley Railway near Tunbridge Wells on the old Tunbridge Wells West branch, East Kent Railway on the old East Kent coalfield area and the Kent and East Sussex Railway on the Weald around Tenterden. In addition there is the gauge, tourist-oriented Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway on the southeast Kent coast along the Dungeness peninsular. Finally, there is the , industrial Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway.


A limited number of charter flights are provided by Kent's London Biggin Hill Airport, Kent International Airport at Manston, and London Ashford Airport at Lydd. However, most passengers across the South East use the larger Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports. In 2002, it was revealed that the government is considering building a new four-runway airport on the marshland near the village of Cliffe on the Hoo Peninsula, but this plan was dropped following protests by cultural and environmental groups.


The county has three universities; Canterbury Christ Church University with campuses throughout East Kent, University of Kent, with campuses in Canterbury and Medway, and University of Greenwich, with sites at Woolwich, Eltham, London and Medway. Whereas much of the UK adopted a comprehensive education system in the 1970s, Kent County Council (KCC) and Medway Unitary Authority are among around fifteen local authorities still providing wholly selective education through the eleven-plus high schools and grammar schools. Together, the two Kent authorities have 38 of the 164 grammar schools remaining in the UK.
KCC has the largest education department of any local authority in the UK, providing school places for over 289,000 pupils.
For the 2005-06 school year, KCC and Medway introduced a standardised school year, based on six terms, as recommended by the Local Government Association in its 2000 report, "The Rhythms of Schooling".


External links

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