Kent is a county of diverse landscapes, from its wild coastal marshes to the uplands of Down and Weald, from the heavily wooded Blean complex above Canterbury to the bleak, windswept chalklands of East Kent.
Kent is a county of diverse landscapes - inspiring evocations of both rural idyll and horror - from its wild coastal marshes to the uplands of Down and Weald, from the heavily wooded Blean complex above Canterbury to the bleak, windswept chalklands of East Kent.
In Roman and medieval times the River Stour was a major transport route, connecting Canterbury with mainland Europe. Its beauty has inspired authors across time.
It has become all too fashionable to coin yet another ‘-scape’ (drosscape, playscape, smellscape), however, the root-term ‘landscape’ and some of its derivatives do provide useful means of discussing human and environment interactions and their artistic representations.
The chalk dust permeates numerous literary landscapes, including those of Dickens, Belloc, Thomas Ingoldsby (the Rev. Richard Harris Barham), and Jocelyn Brooke.
One day Barney tumbles into an old chalk pit that is used as a local dumping ground. Here he encounters a ‘cave boy’ who recycles the materials discarded by others to create his home, tools, and other paraphernalia... This childhood freedom is evoked in Clive King’s classic 1963 children’s book 'Stig of the Dump'.
To this day the autumn hop picking season provides a potent image of Kent rural life. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries workhouses were considerably less busy at this time as families and people of all ages went 'hopping'.
Yonder a meadow down whose length a flock of sheep were folded on successive days; against the horizon line stretched the free downs, owned by none, belonging to all; here sheep might feed, cattle might browse, but no man must fence them in, or if he did the poorest wayfarer might break it down – Wilsam, 1913.
Itinerant hop and fruit pickers are often seen as transient but archetypal characters within the landscapes of Kent. London families who helped with the hop harvest and other ‘travellers’ who followed the seasons and the fruit harvests often feature in the literature on Kent.
A number of writers of the Edwardian era and the years between the World Wars chose to depict Romney Marsh in their work. Not least among them was Henry James, who never featured the area in his novels but found the Marsh a very special place.