Published: Thursday 7th Feb 2013
I recently went to a Visit Kent meeting where campaigns for 2013 were discussed. All the Usual Suspects were there: Golf, Coastal Activities, various centenaries and the ongoing Saatchi advertising which has had a fantastic impact on the London Underground. The Tourism Development Manager, Cheryl Parker, gave an interesting rundown on facts and figures and told us that a massive and growing sector of Tourism in Kent could be described as Church Tourism. Visitors to Religious Buildings are increasing in numbers and form a significant percentage of visitors to Kent.
The obvious destination is UNESCO World Heritage Site Canterbury Cathedral, a point of pilgrimage for centuries. In Kent we are fortunate to have two Cathedrals, the other being Rochester. In addition there are many other notable Churches throughout the county including our very own "Cathedral of the Weald" St Dunstan's in Cranbrook. The 14 Churches of Romney Marsh are all fascinating for different reasons - there's the detached Bell Tower at Brookland, the isolated Church of St Thomas at Fairfield, St Mary the Virgin, burial place of the author Edith Nesbit and All Saints, Lydd, the largest Church in Kent where one of the Romanovs is purportedly buried.
The Chagall stained glass windows in All Saints at Tudeley are well worth visiting and an outstanding example of the Gothic Revival style can be seen in Christ Church, Kilndown.
There are numerous other Churches in Kent that warrant a special journey - too many to mention - but it is not just Christian Churches that compel a visit - Gravesend is home to one of the biggest Sikh Temples outside India. Shri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara is a Must See in Northern Kent. While you are in Gravesend you must visit St George's Church and pay your respects to the statue of Pocahontas who died at Gravesend aged just 21.