Spotlight on Gravesend, Kent
PUBLISHED: 01:16 28 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:12 20 February 2013
With a lovely riverside area, links to a Red-Indian princess, great transport connections and an electrifying history, Gravesend is anything <br/>but a grave place
Spotlight on Gravesend, Kent
With a lovely riverside area, links to a Red-Indian princess, great transport connections and an electrifying history, Gravesend is anything
but a grave place
The beautiful riverside parks, majestic scenery, and unforgettable views of this quaint historic town make Gravesenda fantastic place to visit, but its alsoan eminently practical place to live.
There are sensational shopping facilities, London is only an hours drive away and high-speed rail links whisk you effortlessly to the capital and the continent from nearby Ebbsfleet station.
Gravesend is also alive with vibrant history: American Red Indian princess Pocahontas had links to the town, General Gordon was a much-loved local philanthropist and Town Pier is the oldest cast-iron pier in the world.
St Georges church, with its bronze statue of Princess Pocahontas, is halfway up the hill to town, close to the excellent Towncentric Tourist Information Centre, which leads to St Georges shopping centre, beyond which are the key commercial areas.
If youre not a good walker, do note that getting from the riverside to the main town is a steep climb; however, there are plenty of handy car parks.
The scenic riverside area starts at West Street, where theres the old Town Pier, occupied by the Riva Waterside Restaurant and Bar. Other beauty spots by the water include the historic Three Daws pub, St Andrews Gardens, and St Andrews Art Centre, with the adjoining Mission House, plus quaint Anchor Cove.
Further along the river bank youll find the Riverside Leisure Area, encompassing Riverside Walkways, and Fort Gardens, Gordon Gardens and New Tavern Fort (01474 365984) and also Chantry Heritage Centre in ancient Milton Chantry (01474 337457).
Where to eat and drink
Try Barbutis (01474 550030), in the old police station building (above), or Riva Waterside Restaurant and Bar (01474 364694) on the Town Pier,
with magnificent views across the Thames. Five hundred-year-old The Three Daws (01474 566869), also by the river, provides wonderful food and views. A renowned half-timbered inn with Dickensian connections in Cobham is the Leather Bottle (01474 814327). There are great ales at The Millers Cottage (01474 358354), and the Jolly Drayman (01474 352355) was in the top three of CAMRAs Local Pub
of the Year Awards in 2009 and 2010.
Where to shop
The town centre has one of Kents largest shopping centres, with more than 250 shops and one of the countys oldest charter markets. There are two main shopping malls: St Georges and the Thamesmead Centre. Gravesend market, between Queen Street and High Street, is held six days a week in a covered area. The town centre itself is pedestrianised, with a pavement caf culture and abundant floral displays. Bluewater is only a short drive away.
Steve Finch has run Steves Collectables (01474 564465) for the past 10 years, and has been an enthusiastic entrepreneur since 11. He sells card games and action figures. I was born and brought up in Gravesend, and I feel at home here, Id never want to leave, he says. My customers are very loyal. I more or less know what to sell to each person who comes in,
as Im familiar with their interests and enthusiasms. There arent too many problems in town, apart from sometimes its not easy for my customers to park. There are still plenty of tourists around theyre attracted by our heritage and history.
Considering a move?
There are a number of good schools in the area, the facilities and transport links are excellent and property is competitively priced compared to the rest of the south east. You can acquire a one- or two-bedroom flat for 93,000 and 126,000 respectively, and a two-bedroom house
for around 164,000, while a three-bedroom semi might be 210,000 and a four-bedroom detached would be in the region of 327,000. Check carefully on a district before you buy.
My Town by Brian Portway, president of Gravesend Rotary Club, news reporter, council press officer and Town Centre Manager
What are Rotarys aims?
To draw together business people to use their skills to help the community.
Any special events?
Our big event is the On your bike cycle ride each April, which sees around 1,000 sponsored riders set off from the riverside. The great local support has meant we have raised over 400,000 for charities big and small in the 25 years of this cycle ride.
Sum up your town?
Unique, surprising and never still. People have been arriving here for centuries from all around the world and also seeing us as their farewell as they leave for new lives. Add in the mix of buildings, riverside and lanes, and you have living history right up to today.
What do you like best?
I particularly like to see the sailing barges coming to moor off St Andrews Gardens and the giant
cargo ships almost silently gliding past.
Visitors say what an attractive town centre we have, with a great atmosphere. Weve concentrated
on getting the basics right, from street care to floral decorations: our Britain
in Bloom awards prove that.
Would you change anything?
Gravesend always has a sombre ring about it and bends perceptions. Our many visitors always seem surprised, saying its not what I expected and describing it as clean, bright, cheerful, interesting and busy. I enjoy seeing people being pleasantly surprised.
With the longest village street in Kent, Meophams village green is overlooked by an old windmill, and former prime minister John Major is patron of the Cricket Club. Dont miss the 14th-century church of St John the Baptist.
Is in a conservation area and the 1200s parish church of St Mary Magdalene has magnificent brasses, some more than 600 years old. There are two key open spaces: Cobham Park and Jeskyns, a green space area owned by the Forestry Commission.
The Higham Marshes are a habitat for species of wildfowl, and Gads Hill place was once owned by Dickens, and is where the great writer died. Higham is also home to the Larkin Memorial, dedicated in 1835 to Charles Larkin.
Its name refers to the local chalkstone, the flint from which was mined until the early 1800s. Dickens spent his honeymoon here and wrote the early part of The Pickwick Papers, and also based the blacksmiths forge in Great Expectations on the old village forge.
Named from the River Fleet, at the village core is a group of buildings surrounding a crossroads. Most notable are the 14th-century parish church of St Nicholas and the Ship Inn.
Part of the North Downs AONB, this parish is popular with cyclists, ramblers and horse riders. Luddesdown Court, built around 1100, is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited house in England. St Peter and St Paul church has three medieval bells and rare
19th-century wall paintings.