Based in the county of Kent, south of England, Maidstone is partitioned by the meandering River Medway. Within the county, it's the economic and agricultural center. It's also a major English tourist attraction, oozing both historical and contemporary cultures which can be seen reflected in its magnificent architecture and wide array of cultural centers.
The earliest remains found in Maidstone date back to the Neolithic period. The road leading through the town is an evidence of ancient Roman occupation, whereas Norman remains include the abbey which can be found in Boxley. First recorded as a town in the middle of the 16th century, this was later approved by James I in 1619. It was the Major of Maidstone, Andrew Broughton, who sentenced Charles I to death and a commemorating plaque, can be found today in the town center. The river played a large part in the economic prosperity of Maidstone and allowed numerous industries to thrive, including cloth, stone quarrying, and brewing.
Today, Maidstone has grown and now incorporates a number of the surrounding villages. Financially, the main sectors are service, retail, and administrative, although there are also industrial estates in the area. Due to its close proximity to London, it's a popular residency for commuters to the capital.
Kent is known as the Garden of England, and Maidstone, with its beautiful orchards and magnificent hop gardens, is a large contributor to this nickname. A major feature of Maidstone is the River Medway which runs through it. Once flowing in a west-easterly direction, now it heads north due to the fact that it has been joined by the River Beult and River Teise. This has redirected its course to run through a ridge resulting in the town being split up into two hills. Maidstone is also recognized for its mill ponds, a reflection of the number of mills which used to be powered by the Loose Stream.
Within Great Britain, the county of Kent is one of the warmest regions to visit. In general, the summer tends to average between 18 and 22 degree Celsius. The average low in winter is around 1 degree Celsius, although freezing is possible as is a little snow. As you may expect for a UK town, precipitation can occur throughout the year, so don't forget your umbrella.
A good place to start in order to appreciate the heritage of Maidstone is Leeds Castle. It's not hard to appreciate why this is viewed as one of the world's most stunning castles. Surrounded by a moat and 500 acres of picturesque parkland, it's home to the Dog Collar Museum and the "World of Wings" bird show. The Archbishop's palace is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Once the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Courtenay, now its used as a registry office. Constructed in the 14th century, All Saints Church is renowned for being one of the best examples of a perpendicular church within the country. Many come to visit it to admire its medieval altar slab, the memorial to Laurence Washington and the 20 misericords of its choir. A second All Saints Church, which resides in Hollingbourne, was once popular for pilgrims. If you have time, Bank Street is well worth a wander. This street is lined with more historic structures than any other, dating back from medieval times to the Victorian age.
A fantastic way to get a richer sense of the history surrounding Maidstone is to visit numerous museums in the town. The Museum of Kent Life is a good place to start to gain a feel for the whole region. The free Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery provide a historical insight into the town and is also host to a delightful gallery. If you're visiting in summer, you should make sure to take a look at the Tyrwhitt Drake Collection in the Maidstone Carriage Museum.
If you want to relax, Brenchley Gardens can be found in the center of the town. You can picnic on the lawns or walk around the manicured flowerbeds. Bearsted Woodland Trust is 16 acres of beautiful woodland, interspersed with a multitude of intriguing trails. Otherwise, you could decide to unwind on a Kentish Lady River Cruise. This is a fantastic way to gain a fresh perspective of the region from the water. For a stunning bird's-eye view, take advantage of a hot air balloon ride from Leeds Castle.
For an alternative cultural experience, Maidstone is recognized as one of the best shopping areas within southeastern England. The two main shopping centers are Fremlin Walk and The Mall Maidstone where you can splash out on high-quality brands. If you're feeling a little more energetic, Go Ape! Is a treetop adventure park which is perfect for a thrill-seeking day out? Maidstone also boasts a number of high-class golf courses and quality spas for a truly indulgent vacation.
Nightlife and Eating Out
Maidstone is home to a multitude of restaurants serving numerous culinary delights, whether you like traditional pub food or more international dishes. From fine dining to greasy takeouts, you'll be sure to find the perfect food outlet to delight your taste buds. High Street and King Street are popular with a plethora of cafes and restaurants.
For an evening's entertainment, the Hazlitt Theatre hosts local acts as well as more well-known names. AMF Bowling is also in the vicinity. The renowned Lock meadow is a complex which contains a cinema, club, and restaurants. The town center is perfect for night owls who want to stay up until the early hours. Here you'll find a wide variety of bars and clubs, prefect for a just few drinks or night filled with dancing.
Maidstone is a town bursting with rich English heritage which can be seen reflected in its stunning architecture and serene landscape. It's also managed to incorporate more modern forms of entertainment, creating a fantastic blend of both traditional and contemporary cultures.