Dan Snow: ‘Kent has played a major part in history’
PUBLISHED: 09:21 23 March 2020
Although he travels the world in pursuit of historic places, Dan Snow is convinced nobody need venture further than Kent to be able to look into the entire history of Britain
“There are archeological digs going on all the time around Britain, proving that so far we only know part of our story,” says Dan Snow. “Kent is one of my favourite counties, perhaps THE favourite because it has played a major part in just about every era since time began, so to speak.”
In a sense, Dan is a crusader because he likes nothing better than to arouse an interest in history among people who had previously thought of it as little more than a boring school lesson.
Already Dan has converted many with his television series, books, radio broadcasts and his History Hit podcast.
Kent has provided him with many happy visits and he plans many more in the future. “I have featured different parts of the county in my various television series, it is such an amazing area producing centuries of historical facts. What I also really like is that the people of Kent are so in touch with their history, as can be seen by the large number of heritage and history groups in the county.
“They take a passionate interest and pride in it, whether we are going way back to Roman times and before or to the more modern links with the 21st century.”
Dan Snow first came to our TV screens in a fascinating series on battlefields, which he researched and presented with his famous and much-respected father Peter Snow. The BBC2 series Battlefield Britain won a BAFTA award for special effects and not only launched the nation into a much keener interest in history, but also projected Dan into a high-profile career as an expert.
“It has always been history first with me rather than the thought of a media career,” he explains. “When you have parents who take an interest in history and are also media people, it does rub off. They have been great role models but it was never a natural path for me to take, just a great way of sharing my passion for history.”
Dan is not only renowned for his television work but is also something of an action man, having rowed three times for Oxford in the Boat Race with one win to his credit and taken part in many other sports.
He has also shown a caring side, typified by the time in 2010 when he and a few friends took three inflatable boats from Dover to Calais to help 25 people return to the UK after they were stranded in France by an air travel problem.
The French authorities were none too pleased, but Dan’s Dunkirk spirit saved the day for those stranded and he made a little history of his own.
Dan is also a family man, married to Edwina, formerly Lady Edwina Grosvenor, whose godmother was Princess Diana.
They have two daughters, Zia and Orla, and Wolf, their son. The children have been encouraged to take an interest in history from an early age. “They have been with me to a few castles and trodden the battlements in the rain. That’s the sign of a true historian!”
Although Dan has been associated with battles, his interests go far beyond matters of conflict. His other projects bring back to life the golden age of steam railways in Britain.
“I think we all love steam trains, they are such magnificent creatures,” he says. “It goes without saying that its location near London means that Kent has its own railway heritage as well.
“The East Kent Railway attracts railway enthusiasts from all over the world and is keeping alive a brilliant heritage which goes back to the days when it was primarily used to transport coal.”
It is history, both British and global, that has made Dan such a national treasure and his annual tours of theatres are usually sold out well in advance. He has even become affectionately known as the ‘History Guy’, a title he enjoys.
“Every era known to man has left its mark in Kent, including prehistory. The various ages right through to the coming of the Romans have left behind some of the most fascinating relics and finds that archeologists have ever discovered. It puts together the story of the county as one of the busiest areas in Britain and really, it still is today.
“Evidence of the importance of Kent includes the Medway which has always been a strategic point for both naval and merchant shipping and bases. When the Normans landed in 1066, Kent gave them a hard time and put up a stronger resistance than anywhere else in the country.
“Kent has castles and stately homes going back centuries; even Margate has a major place in the world of seaside entertainment.
“Wat Tyler led the famous Peasant’s Revolt from Kent back in 1458 and, of course, we haven’t even mentioned Canterbury yet, the centre of the Anglican Church and the scene of so much drama and intrigue throughout history.
“Let us not forget the role that Kent played in the Second World War either. The county was the scene of many of the boats coming back from Dunkirk with rescued survivors, the Battle of Britain was largely fought in the skies over Kent and many men and women from the county were involved in the D-Day landings which altered the entire course of the conflict.
“I have a particular love of Saxon and Roman history and there is no doubt that Kent is one of the key parts of Britain in revealing to us what life was like in those days. I am sure there is more to come yet as we continue to find artefacts that were in use all those years ago.
“I find myself attracted to Kent and visit whenever I can. Of course, Charles Dickens had a great love of the county. His father worked at Chatham Docks and there are many other places which clearly inspired him. I am not in the same class as Dickens, but I do share his love of the county.”
Dan is so into history that he makes podcast broadcasts several times a week on History Hit.
“We started History Hit about three years ago,” he explains. “It has a great following of people who have a passion for the past. It came about in part because of the amount of letters and emails that were coming in to tell us about pieces of history that had been unearthed, or asking questions, giving opinions and so on.
“So we started the History Hit podcast and then in 2018 we started History Hit TV. It shows that most of the nation seems to be fascinated by history, both British and international, and all centuries too.
We have many people from Kent who subscribe to us and that doesn’t surprise me – I do find that there is such a great interest in the county. People are understandably proud of their local and national history, their heritage and their roots.”