The county of Kent stretches from the southeastern edge of London down to the English Channel, and is known as the Garden of England. We live just across the border from Kent and have enjoyed countless days out there over the years. Here’s my pick of some of the best historical Kent attractions for a family day out.
Hever Castle dates from the thirteenth century and was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second of King Henry VIII’s six wives. Hever’s a beautiful place to visit and is very family-friendly – it has a water maze, a yew maze, a brilliant woodland adventure playground and you can also go boating on the lake. There are always activities on offer during the school holidays and you can take along a picnic or eat at one of the restaurants.
Read more in my post about a family day out at Hever Castle.
Quex Park, near Margate, is an historic country estate which dates from the 15th century. The estate centres around the Powell-Cotton Museum and its nineteenth century animal dioramas and objects which naturalist and adventurer Percy Powell-Cotton brought back from his travels. Besides the museum, there’s a host of activities on offer for all ages in the grounds of Quex Park, from paintballing and archery to soft play to a farm shop and a fantastic cafe.
Read more in my post about our day at Quex Park.
Chartwell, near Westerham, was the country home of Winston Churchill and his family from 1922 until his death in 1965. Chartwell is now owned by the National Trust and is a fascinating place to visit. You can tour inside the house, but the gardens and surrounding grounds have more to offer families with children. Kids can play in the brick playhouse which Churchill built for his daughter Mary, there are tree swings to enjoy, and in the woods and there’s a reconstruction of the camp where Canadian soldiers were stationed to guard Churchill during WWII.
Read more in my post about Chartwell.
Penshurst Place dates from the 13th century and has some of the most beautiful formal gardens that you can imagine. The gardens are divided into different areas by yew hedging, and so walking through them gives a feeling of exploration and discovery – the gardens really are a great place for a family picnic. There’s an excellent adventure playground and a very good cafe, and you can also explore the interior of the historic building. There are usually children’s activities on offer during the school holidays.
Read more in my post about Penshurst Place and Gardens.
Groombridge Place, near Tunbridge Wells, was one of our favourite places for a family day out when the kids were small. Visitors can’t actually go inside the 17th century manor house, as it’s privately owned, but we love exploring the grounds. There’s a beautiful formal garden, a cafe, free roaming peacocks, a woodland with zeedonks (donkey-zebra animals), an assault course, giant swings and play areas, and when you reach the end of the woodland, you can take a boat ride back to near the entrance.
Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, was originally the seat of a Royal Saxon family, and was the home of England’s Kings and Queens for 300 years. At one time, it was the home of Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The castle is beautiful, and is one of the most visited in Britain. It has 500 acres of parkland and formal gardens and offers many family activities, including children’s trails around the grounds, an adventure playground, a Go Ape centre and punting.
Chatham Historic Dockyard
I haven’t been to Chatham Historic Dockyard yet – if you’ve been, do let me know what it’s like! Chatham Docks played a vital role in building and repairing ships from Tudor times until the 20th century, and today it’s one of Britain’s top maritime heritage attractions. There are historic warships and submarines on display and there’s a varied programme of events and activities.
Dreamland is considered to be the oldest amusement park in Britain, and dates from the 1860s. The Margate attraction has been completely renovated, and reopened last year, billing itself as the ‘UK’s original pleasure park: reimagined.’ It sounds like a brilliant place for a fun family day out, and I’m definitely going to organise a trip there this year.
Find our more about Kent
If you’d like to know more about what Kent has to offer, go to the Visit Kent website – or ask me, and I’ll do my best to help. If you’d like a guided book, I recommend The Rough Guide to Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
Over to you
Do you have any recommendations to add to the list? have you been to any historic attractions in Kent which are great for a family day out?