With international travel being severely disrupted over recent months, many people across the UK have looked towards a staycation to get their holiday fix. What is a staycation you may ask? It’s going on holiday without crossing any country borders.
Taking such trips is a great opportunity to discover more of the UK and with fewer tourists around you’ll be able to enjoy more without being stuck in the crowds.
One area that many have travelled to is Kent and in today’s blog post we shine the light on a what to do in and around Aylesford.
Things to do in and around Aylesford
The River Medway
The River Medway runs for nearly 70 miles, rising in the High Weald and flowing all the way to the Thames Estuary. The River Medway is a beautiful waterway that is perfect for a variety of activities such as rowing, canoeing and cruises, and so it is ideal if you have an active lifestyle. In terms of history, during the Anglo Saxon period, the river not only provided a means of transport and trade but represented a physical and symbolic boundary. Much of Maidstone’s commercial success was due to the river.
St Peter and St Pauls Church
This is a great one for the history fans. It is thought that some parts of the church in Aylesford have evidence of being from the Norman period, which dates back to 1066. Although the church has undergone some alterations, some of the original parts of the church are still visible such as the base of the tower. As you walk through the building you will be able to notice plenty of unique historical pieces, such as swords and helmets. The tower, part of the original building, is occasionally open to the public and provides a beautiful view over the area. However, it is quite high so it all depends on your willingness and fear of heights! While the church was closed for public worship during the pandemic, it has since reopened.
Another great one for the historians. Situated on the River Medway, Upnor Castle sits as a rare example of Elizabethan artillery. By order of Queen Elizabeth, the gun fort was built to protect English warships. However, in June of 1667, the castle proved to be ineffective as the Dutch sailed up the Medway and managed to make it through to the castle and with very little resistance. A few days later, the Dutch left after destroying and capturing most of the fleet that was docked here.
The gatehouse and main body of the castle are open for viewing. You can visit this site with the family and they even have family trails and crafts during school holidays.
Leybourne Lakes Country Park
Leybourne Lakes Country Park, covering about 93 hectares of land, boasts a wide variety of wildlife. There are grasslands, newly created shallow wetlands, dense scrub, the Mill Stream, hedgerows and woodlands. This site was originally a gravel and sand workings area with extraction taking place between 1946 and 1977. After this, the area began to be restored by landscaping and establishing various plants to create these different habitats, following which the park opened in 2004. It is now a Green Flag Award-winning park and a designated Wildlife Site. It’s also listed as an Area of Local Landscape Importance.
While the play area in the park remains closed, the park is currently open for general exercise use.
Kit’s Coty House
Kit’s Coty House is what is known as a Neolithic burial site built in the Neolithic period which would have been around 3000 - 4000 BC. Long barrows were used as communal burial sites and would have also acted as a place for rituals. These sites are seen to be a burial place of some of the earliest agricultural and farming communities in England.
Kit’s Coty House is one of the more distinctive survivors of the burial sites as it stands tall as an H-feature and it is made of sarsen stone. There are other examples of these burial sites around the main one which you can visit, free of charge.
The Friars is one of the most intact medieval courtyards in all of England. The Friars acts as a hostelry for pilgrims. Over its 750-year history, the building has changed habits many times. It was bought to be a stately home to merchant bankers, royalists during the civil war and those who served in the Second World War. Eventually, the building was bought back by the Carmelite family and they restored and rebuilt chapels. While their accommodation is currently closed due to Covid-19, you can visit the Friars and take in some very interesting history.
Oh, if the walls could talk! This manor house was originally built in 1100 and housed the Culpeper family for over 400 years. Many nobles and royals graced these halls with their presence. One of the more notable ones was Sir Thomas Culpeper who acted as a courtier to King Henry VIII and was the secret lover of the King’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard. When the King found out about the affair, both of them were executed. Later, a member of the Culpeper family was actively involved in a plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I to appoint Mary Queen of Scots. You can find a memorial for the Culpeper family inside the church.
After some of the lands were sold off, the grounds now range over 29 acres. The manor house is open to the public to visit. However, due to the pandemic they are currently closed but aim to open again in September.
Aylesford has a wealth of history to take in and is a wonderful place to visit. If you live in Aylesford or are thinking of moving here, the good news is that you won’t need to worry about where to safely store your household or business items.
Storage King Aylesford is the perfect solution to any space problems you may have. Give us a call on 01622 715 398 and chat to a friendly member of the team.