Kent: An educational itinerary in The Garden of England

Date Posted: 23/07/2015

Visit Kent has teamed up with The University of Kent and a host of local attractions to create an ideal itinerary for school groups.

Kent boasts more castles and historic houses than any other county, a maritime heritage that embraces thousands of years, and a city culture where ancient splendour blends with ultra-modern galleries, and theatre. 

Students can follow in Chaucer’s pilgrim’s footsteps in Canterbury; discover maritime adventures that have helped shape Kent from the Roman invasion to World War Two; and visit modern galleries and theatre.

Here are some suggestions for a two-day visit to the Garden of England.

Day One: Canterbury Cathedral, The Canterbury Tales, Dover Castle

Morning

Begin your journey in the historic city of Canterbury. Visit Canterbury Cathedral, mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which offers a wide range of facilities for visiting school groups, tailored to age and study subject.

Its rich history and role as one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage centres is intrinsically linked to the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, an historic event popular even with the most reluctant student of History.

Schools may book an entrance only, audio-visual, audio tour or guided tour. Free pupil questionnaires and teacher information are available from the cathedral website or on arrival from the welcome centre.

Your pupils can then step back in time at The Canterbury Tales attraction, which allows students to learn in an environment that is complete with the sights, sounds and smells of the Middle Ages.

Pupils should enjoy live interaction from costumed guides, with a pre-recorded audio commentary, re-telling five of Geoffrey Chaucer’s most famous tales as you journey on a pilgrimage from London to Canterbury. To support the visit, workshops and packages with other city attractions can be arranged.

Afternoon

After lunch in Canterbury, depart the city and let your group unlock the 'Key of England' at nearby Dover Castle, the iconic, cliff top fortress with 2,000 years’ history to share. Experience Medieval court life in the Great Tower or share the drama of its World War Two secret wartime tunnels. 

Close by are Deal and Walmer Castles, built by Henry VIII to repel invasion in the wake of the Reformation. St Augustine's Abbey, the ruins of which stand in the shadow of Canterbury Cathedral, will give students a real insight into the historical significance of Kent.

Night

Finally, head back to Canterbury for the night for some well-earned rest and relaxation. The University of Kent is an ideal base for school groups offering over 4,000 modern bedrooms during April to May and June to September.

Schools can take advantage of the campus’ sports facilities on site and the university can arrange everything from cricket workshops at Kent County Cricket Club to a cycle tour to Whitstable. 

Day Two: Leeds Castle, Historic Dockyard Chatham

Morning

Depart Canterbury and travel to nearby Maidstone to visit Leeds Castle. Pre-book private guided tours in different languages or take an audio tour around the castle.

There are plenty of workshops for teachers to choose from. New for this year is From Cave to Castle, an interactive session for KS2 pupils covering the Hunter Gatherer period right through to 1066. 

The Artful Henry workshop, which is aimed at all levels of KS2 and lower end KS3, commences with an interactive role play with costumes, to look at the importance of portraiture in the Tudor period. It is followed by the creation of a clay roundel of a Tudor personage. Education leaders guide the class through the different stages of the roundel creation, using pictures and examples projected onto a screen.

Afternoon

After lunch at the castle, journey to the The Historic Dockyard, Chatham. The nature of the site, historic buildings, galleries and historic ships means that it is suitable for groups of all sizes.

Make the most of the dock’s bespoke learning service to create the perfect day for your students; for example, add a walk-through of a submarine or try your hand at making a piece of rope. Alternatively, you can choose one or more of their hour-long taught sessions.

For more information contact Alanna Kite on alanna.kite@visitkent.co.uk or visit www.visitkent.co.uk.

School Travel Organiser's Guide