Gravesend, Kent is an ancient town on the south bank of the Thames estuary. There are many things to do in Gravesend, and the surrounding area has riverside, countryside, historic villages and unique attractions waiting to be discovered.
Gravesend Town Pier
Gravesend Town Pier is the oldest surviving cast iron pier in the world. Opened in 1834, it lies on the same site as the original Town Quay which was referred to in the Domesday Book. Between 1835 and 1842, over 3 million passengers used the pier. But by the start of the 1900s, this number had rapidly fallen as the railways came about, and the pier was no longer a major hub for steam packet services to London. In 2000, the Gravesham Borough Council restored the pier, with the addition of a restaurant. However, the restaurant later became a fiscal failure. What remains today is the ferry service running between Gravesend and Tilbury. You can also sail along the River Thames in board barges or paddle steamers from the newly installed pontoon.
Things to do in Gravesend
Across the water from Gravesend is Tilbury Fort, first constructed by Henry VIII in the 16th century to protect London’s seaward approach. The fort was designed at a time when artillery had become the main feature in battles, and so was constructed to be resilient to the shock of bombardment. Elizabeth I visited the fort on her way to West Tilbury camp, where she famously delivered her speech to rally her army against the Spanish Armada in 1588. In the First World War, the fort was used as a storage place for supplies, and where troops were prepared for the trenches. The fort was used all the way up to the Second World War, when it defended London as an anti aircraft flack and home guard defense. Today, you can explore the magazine houses where gunpowder was stored, or head into the bastion magazine passages to experience what soldiers would have felt like living there. Check out the exhibition to learn more about the history and role of the fort.
Gravesend Nuclear Bunker
Catch a glimpse into what it was like in Cold War England at the Gravesend Nuclear Bunker. This was an underground command post from which Gravesend’s rescue and emergency services were to be organised in the event of a nuclear attack. It was built in 1954, and the bunker has been restored to look just like it would’ve when it was in use. There are 13 rooms which once contained a power and ventilation plant, dormitories and meeting areas for the command staff. Make your way around the bunker and take a look at the domestic fallout room, the communications room and a replica radiation monitoring post. As part of the guided tour, you’ll also watch a government film advising citizens on how to protect against a nuclear attack.
Gravesend Borough Market
Whether you want to bag some bargains or just want to window shop, Gravesend Borough Market is the place to be. One of the oldest markets in Kent, the market has recently undergone a £1.8 million refurbishment and offers an even better shopping experience. You’ll find everything you need, from beauty, fashion, jewellery, antiques, food and drink, and much more. The market also holds events and festivals all year round.
Shorne Woods Country Park
Gravesend isn’t short of lovely green spaces. Shorne Woods Country Park has everything you need from a country park, including an eco-friendly visitor centre and cafe, a sensory garden, orienteering, fishing lakes, play areas, a trim trail and picnic areas. The park also has a large number of waymarked trails and wheelchair-friendly routes to explore the 292 acres of meadows, woodlands and wetlands. There are also horse riding and cycling routes around the area.
Places to Stay in Gravesend
The Clarendon Royal Hotel
Located directly on the River Thames, The Clarendon Royal Hotel is set in a stunning building dating back to 1665. There is a variety of rooms, from doubles to apartments. Each room has modern amenities like tea and coffee making facilities and flat screen TV.
Jessamine Guest House
Jessamine Guest House is set in a pretty Victorian house, and offers comfy rooms each with an ensuite, tea and coffee making facilities, flat screen TV and toiletries.
The Granby Hotel
The Granby Hotel has a range of comfortable rooms ranging from single to family size. Each room has ensuite bathrooms, a flat screen TV, and tea and coffee making facilities. There is also a fully licensed bar and buffet menu.
Places to Eat in Gravesend
Rico Sabor serves the very best Spanish and Latin American food, including well-loved dishes like tapas and paella. There is also a fantastic range of wines, beers, spirits and cocktails from different countries in Latin America.
Chattorey is not your regular Indian curry house. Serving up authentic street food style dishes, Chattorey specialises in small bites and classic mains.
If you’re out exploring for the day and fancy a quick lunch or afternoon tea, The Pantry is a bright and cheerful cafe serving classics like sandwiches, bagels, toasties and sweet treats.