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. This describes the eastern part of the current county area as a border land or coastal district.
Julius Caesar had described the area as um , or home of the Cantiaci in 51 BC. Caesar wrote that the people of Kent were 'by far the most civilised inhabitants of Britain'. East Kent became a kingdom of the Jutes during the 5th century  and was known as Cantia from about and recorded as Cent in 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 , Pope Gregory I appointed the religious missionary who became Saint Augustine of Canterbury after his death as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. The Diocese of Canterbury became England's first Episcopal See with first cathedral and has since remained England's centre of Christianity. In the 11th century, the people of Kent adopted the motto Invicta , meaning "undefeated" or "unconquered".
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 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. Kent was traditionally partitioned into East and West Kent, and into lathes and hundreds. The traditional border of East and West Kent was the county's main river, the Medway. 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 , led by Wat Tyler ,  Jack Cade 's Kent rebellion of , and Wyatt's Rebellion of against Queen Mary I.
The Royal Navy first used the River Medway in By the reign of Elizabeth I — a small dockyard had been established at Chatham. By , 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 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.
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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 In the early 19th century, 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 the County of London was created and took over responsibility for local administration of parts of north-west Kent. In , however, Kent absorbed the district of Penge. Some of Kent is contiguous with the Greater London sprawl, notably parts of Dartford.
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Between June and March more than 10, V1 flying bombs , or "Doodlebugs", were fired towards London from bases in Northern France. Although many were destroyed by aircraft, anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons , both London and Kent were hit by around 2, of these bombs. After the war Kent's borders changed several more times.
In the London boroughs of Bromley and Bexley were created from nine towns formerly in Kent. The most likely reason for this is that in Hamon, dapifer and Sheriff of Kent , owned the manor and, perhaps illegally, annexed it to Kent.
Kent is one of the warmest parts of Britain. On 10 August , in the hamlet of Brogdale near Faversham the temperature reached Kent is in the southeastern corner of England. The major geographical features of the county are based on a series of ridges and valleys running east-west across the county. The ridges and valleys formed when the exposed clay eroded faster than the exposed chalk, greensand, or sandstone. Sevenoaks , Maidstone , Ashford , and Folkestone are built on greensand,  while Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are built on sandstone.
The Wealden dome is a Mesozoic structure lying on a Palaeozoic foundation, which can often create the right conditions for coal formation. They occur in two major troughs, which extend under the English Channel. Seismic activity has occasionally been recorded in Kent, though the epicentres were offshore.
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In and there were two earthquakes exceeding 6. In , , and on 28 April there were earthquakes of around 4. The earthquake caused physical damage in Folkestone. There was little if any damage reported.
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The coastline of Kent is continuously changing, due to tectonic uplift and coastal erosion. Until about , 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. Here it turns north and breaks through the North Downs at Rochester, then joins the estuary of the River Thames near Sheerness. Other rivers of Kent include the River Stour in the east. A study found that Kent shares significant reserves of shale oil with other neighbouring counties, totalling 4. Fracking in the area is required to achieve these objectives; it has been opposed by environmental groups. At the census ,  Kent, including Medway, had 1,, residents The tables below provide statistics for the administrative county of Kent, that is, excluding Medway.
At the county council elections , control of Kent County Council was held by the Conservatives , who won 44 of the council's 83 seats. At the local elections [ out of date ] , control of Medway Council was held 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.
In October UKIP lost overall control following a series of resignations, although remaining the largest party, only for UKIP to regain control once more following ward elections in August At the national level, Kent is represented in Parliament by 17 MPs , all of whom were Conservative until the general election of June At the UK census [ out of date ] ,  employment statistics for the residents in Kent, including Medway, were as follows: The average hours worked per week by residents of Kent were Their industry of employment was Kent is sometimes known as the "Garden of England" for its abundance of orchards and hop gardens.
Distinctive hop-drying buildings called oasts are common in the countryside, although many have been converted into dwellings. Nearer to London, market gardens also flourish.
Kent is the main area for hazelnut production in the UK. However, in recent years, there has been a significant drop in agriculture, and industry and services are increasing their utilisation of the area. 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.
There are two nuclear power stations at Dungeness , although the older one, built in , was closed at the end of 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. In pre-industrial times, almost every village and town had its own windmill or watermill , with over 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 , 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 to West and Central Kent has long had many City of London commuters. Kent's geographical location between the Straits of Dover and London has influenced its architecture, as has its Cretaceous geology and its good farming land and fine building clays.
Kent's countryside pattern was determined by a gavelkind inheritance system that generated a proliferation of small settlements.
There was no open-field system, and the large tracts were owned by the two great abbeys, Christ Church, Canterbury and St Augustine's Abbey , that did not pass into the hands of the king during the Reformation. Canterbury Cathedral is the United Kingdom's metropolitan cathedral ; it was founded in AD and displays architecture from all periods.
There are nine Anglo-Saxon churches in Kent. Rochester Cathedral is England's second-oldest cathedral, the present building built in the Early English Style. Other important sites include Canterbury city walls and Rochester Castle. Kent has three unique vernacular architecture forms: the oast house , the Wealden hall house , and Kentish peg-tiles. Kent has bridge trusts to maintain its bridges, and though the great bridge at Rochester was replaced there are medieval structures at Aylesford , Yalding and Teston.
The Bluewater shopping centre at Greenhithe is the United Kingdom's largest shopping mall. 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.
A number of significant artists came from Kent, including Thomas Sidney Cooper , a painter of landscapes, often incorporating farm animals,  Richard Dadd , a maker of faery paintings, and Mary Tourtel , the creator of the children's book character, Rupert Bear. The artist Clive Head was also born in Kent. The landscape painter J. 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.
Kent was also the location of the largest number of art schools in the country during the nineteenth century, estimated by the art historian David Haste, to approach two hundred. This is believed to be the result of Kent being a front line county during the Napoleonic Wars. At this time, before the invention of photography, draughtsmen were used to draw maps and topographical representations of the fields of battle, and after the wars ended many of these settled permanently in the county in which they had been based.
Once the idea of art schools had been established, even in small towns in Kent, the tradition continued, although most of the schools were very small one man operations, each teaching a small number of daughters of the upper classes how to draw and make watercolour paintings. Nonetheless, some of these small art schools developed into much larger organisations, including Canterbury College of Art, founded by Thomas Sidney Cooper in , which is today the University for the Creative Arts.
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