Heritage

Discover thousands of years of Gravesham's heritage, from its early settlement to the present day, including the story behind the names Gravesend and Gravesham by visiting the virtual museum at www.discovergravesham.co.uk .

The River Thames and other connecting transport routes between London and Europe and from Britain to the rest of the World; arrivals, departures, visitors and settlers have all played a significant role in shaping Gravesham and its heritage.

Discover the riverside haunts of smugglers and Gravesend's role at the gateway to the Port of London. View some of the unique places and fine architecture on the river, in the towns of Gravesend and Northfleet and in the beautiful countryside and historic parishes of Shorne, Higham, Cobham, Luddesdown, Meopham and Vigo.

Find out more about the people that have strong historic links with the area:

  • Charles Dickens who lived and died at Gad's Hill Place, Higham and drew inspiration from the area, its people, its buildings and the North Kent Marshes extensively within his novels. Many of those places and the countryside he loved to walk in can be seen and experienced today. Find out more at http://www.discovergravesham.co.uk/famous-people/charles-dickens.html
  • Pocahontas, the native North American Indian, whose remarkable story grew out of the first English settlement at Jamestown in Virginia and is buried at St George's Church, Gravesend. http://www.discovergravesham.co.uk/famous-people/pocahontas.html .
  • General Gordon, the Victorian hero and celebrity who was based in the town and left his mark on its defence and social heritage. Find our more at http://www.discovergravesham.co.uk/famous-people/general-gordon.html
  • Sir Herbert Baker, the celebrated Edwardian architect and associate of Sir Edwin Lutyens who lived at Owletts, now in the ownership of the National Trust at Cobham.
  • The Honourable Ivo Bligh, the 8th Earl of Darnley, who in 1833 led the victorious English cricket team against Australia bringing home the 'Ashes' to Cobham Hall - the ‘home' of Kent cricket, the first recorded game of cricket in England being played there in 1776.

Find more about some of our local ‘heroes' influential in the area's history and development - Robert Pocock, George Matthews Arnold and David Varchell; or pioneers in technological improvement in the important Thameside industries of cement and paper - William Aspdin and Karl Ekman.

Gravesham has a fascinating cluster of historic defences that have been a feature of the Lower Thames and its estuary since the Iron Age and exhibit a range of historic defences from the 14th to the 20th centuries. Gravesend's Tudor Blockhouse, New Tavern and Shornemead Forts constructed against the threat of foreign invasion and to protect the river route to London. Take the Crossfire Trail between New Tarvern Fort and Tilbury Fort to appreciate the thinking that lay behind these defences and visit the Cold War bunker in Woodlands Park a 20th century response to the threat of nuclear bombardment. Each of these sites tell a story about a stage in Britain's defence and the rise and fall of various defence technologies over the centuries.

As the last and first point of contact for many departing from and arriving on England's shores, from high-ranking Royalty to lowly migrants, many have contributed to Gravesham's past. From the arrival of migrants from the Indian Subcontinent from the late 1940's onwards, the Sikh community has grown significantly to become the second largest Sikh population in the South East and is developing a remarkable heritage here in Gravesham with the opening of the major new Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, the largest single site Sikh temple complex in Europe.

Take a step back in time on one of a number of guided tours arranged throughout the year to help you discover and appreciate the area's rich and fascinating history. Further details available from Gravesend's Visitor Centre at Towncentric.