KENT HISTORY AND COAT OF ARMS
The History of Kent
Kent was settled well before most other parts of England and has the oldest recorded place name in the British Isles. The County's history is closely bound up in its proximity to mainland Europe. Archeological remains from prehistoric times show clear links between Kent and Northern Europe, as well as a land link.
When Julius Caesar briefly invaded Kent in 55 and 54 BC he found it the most civilised part of Britain, colonised by the Belgae from Northern France. When the Romans again invaded in 43AD, this time to settle permanently, they colonised Kent along the Portus Lamanus from Richborough, rapidly establishing important centres throughout the County, and the remains of one at Lullingstone include an early Christian chapel.
Under Saxon Rule
The Roman legions abandoned Britain in the early fifth century to defend their empire nearer home. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Vortigern, the British ruler in Kent invited the mercenaries Hengist and Horsa to defend his principality from outside attack. They are said to have landed at Ebbsfleet near Ramsgate in 448 or 449 AD. By the end of the fifth century the Saxon kingdom of Kent had been firmly established. Under its king, Ethelbert, (560-616), Kent became one of the most advanced Saxon kingdoms in England
It was to Kent that Pope Gregory sent his missionaries under Augustine to begin their preaching of the gospel of Christianity to the English people. Augustine and his 40 companions landed at Ebbsfleet in 597. They were well received and instead of moving on to London as they had planned, they established their first cathedral at Canterbury. Seven years later another was built at Rochester. Augustine was the first archbishop, and since then the Archbishop of Canterbury has been the senior bishop of all England.
A County of Castles
After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the new king, William I made his half brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, Earl of Kent. But Odo proved corrupt and the Normans and the men of Kent turned against him. After the release of Odo from prison in 1087 the Kentish levies helped the Normans to defeat him at the battle of Rochester. They were the seed of the first English army.
Within a century the capital of the English kings had moved from Winchester to London, and Kent's proximity to the new capital, together with its prime trading position, increased its political importance. Castles were built to defend the County. The most important were at Dover, Rochester and Canterbury. Henry VIII later built the castles in the Downs at Sandgate, Walmer and Deal to protect the Kent coast. But the closeness of London also made Kent a hot bed of political radicalism. The County played an important part in the peasants' revolt of 1381, and in various subsequent rebellions right up to the English Civil Wars of the1640s when there was fighting in the streets of Maidstone, and the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688/9 when James II fled into exile from Faversham.
Many people left Kent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to begin new lives in America; and were joined by hundreds of Kent poor who emigrated to the United States of America in the nineteenth century.