Original article from Kent Live
The Garden of England is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas in the country.
Steeped in history, Kent has played host to many famous events throughout the years.
The name Kent itself is believed to be of British Celtic origin.
The county was known in Old English at different times as Cent, Cent Lond and Centrice, all of which were pronounced with a hard C as 'Kent'.
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Kent is mentioned in Latin sources as Cantia and Canticum and is thought to have meant either 'coastal district' or 'corner-land, land on the edge'.
But how did each of the county's towns and cities get their names?
We have taken a look at the origin and meaning of place names in Kent and compiled a detailed list in alphabetical order below.
The name Ashford comes from the Old English word æscet, which indicates it was named after a ford near a clump of ash trees.
Initially, Broadstairs did not exist. It was predated by St Peter's which in 1080 was a village centred around the parish church.
On the nearby clifftop was the Shrine of Our Lady, which was recorded as being located at Bradstowe, which meant 'broad place'.
A fishing settlement developed around the area of the shrine and St Peter's, and a flight of steps was built into the cliffs to allow access to the Shrine of Our Lady from the bay below – this is how Broadstairs came to be.
Earlier forms of the name include Brodsteyr Lynch, recorded in the 1400s, Broadstayer in the 1500s, and Brod Stayrs in the 1600s.
Canterbury was originally named Durovernum by the Romans, which is thought to derive form the British word Dour, which signifies water, or possibly the word Durwhern which means a rapid river.
Medieval variants of the city’s Roman name included Dorobernia and Dorovernia.
The Saxons then called Kent Cant-guar-landt, which meant the country of the Kentish men.
Canterbury became Cant-wara byrg, meaning the Kentish men's city.
The Latinists afterwards modelled it to Cantuaria before the English again changed it to its present name of Canterbury.
It has kept its name from about the time of the Norman conquest, which began in 1066.
The name Chatham was first recorded as Cetham in 880. The Domesday Book records the place as Ceteham.
Most books explain this name as a combination of the old British word ceto and Old English word ham, which meant forest settlement and created the name Cetham.
When the Romans engineered the Dover to London road, which was later named Watling Street, it was necessary to cross the River Darent by ford – a shallow section of the river.
This gave the settlement its name at the time of Darent Ford.
It later became a more established area in the Saxon period and eventually became known as Dartford, presumably by its pronunciation changing slightly as Darent and Ford were combined.
Deal is first mentioned as a village in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Addelam. It is referred to as Dela in 1158, and Dale in 1275.
The name is the Old English word dael, meaning 'valley', similar to the modern English word 'dale', also meaning valley.
First recorded in its Latinised form of Portus Dubris, the name derives from the word for waters in Old Brythonic – an ancient Celtic language.
The current name of Dover was in use at least by the early 1600s.
The name Edenbridge derives from the Old English word Eadhelmsbrigge, which means Eadhelm's Bridge.
The Faversham name is Latin via Old English origin, meaning "the metal-worker's village".
It may derive from the Old English fæfere, which in turn comes from the Latin "faber" meaning "craftsman" or "forger".
Ham refers to a village or homestead.
One of the few towns in Kent where mystery surrounds its name is Folkestone.
There is a suggestion that it comes from Folca’s stone, a rock marking the meeting place of local people, although who Folca was and where his stone was remain mysteries.
Even the spelling of the name was not resolved until a 19th century lord of the manor insisted on Folkestone being spelt as it is now.
Gillingham means a ‘homestead of Gylla's family’ and was first recorded in the 10th century as Gyllingeham.
In Old English, ingas means family or followers and ham means village or homestead.
So combining Gylla, ingas and ham created the name.
It is also referred to in old texts as Jillyingham Water, hence the pronunciation of Gillingham now sounding as a "J”.
The origin of Gravesend’s name is still disputed to this day with some claiming it stems from Grafs-ham, meaning a place at the end of the grove.
Many historians are also of the belief that Gravesend was given its name after the spread of the bubonic plague in 1665, which killed around 100,000 Londoners.
It has been suggested the dead were then buried in Gravesend.
But the name was first seen in the Domesday Book about 500 years beforehand in 1086 as Gravesham, which would disprove the plague theory and make it more likely to have come from the word Grafsham.
Greatstone is one of the more fascinating town’s in Kent as it did not even exist less than 200 years ago.
As recent as 1816, the land on which it now stands was part of the seabed in Romney Bay.
The Greatstone name is taken from a shoreline feature, since eroded by coastal changes, known as the Great Stone.
Great Stone, as it was known in the 1800s, was just a shingle headland, being the land point that marked the southern entrance to the bay that extended almost as far west as New Romney.
Hawkinge was originally an early Saxon settlement and was documented as Havekyng, Hawkynge or Hawkyngge.
The Saxon founder of the settlement was called Hafoc, which translates now as Hawk, which is likely where the name originates.
In the eighteenth century, a neighbouring area was known as Uphill and was just a small hamlet with windmills and a mill green surrounded by trees.
Uphill and what was the village Hawkinge then merged to create the now larger town of Hawkinge.
The town of Herne Bay took its name from the neighbouring village of Herne, which is 2km inland from the bay.
The word herne, meaning a place on a corner of land, evolved from the Old English hyrne, just meaning corner.
The village of Herne was first recorded in around 1100 as Hyrnan. The name meaning of corner may relate to the sharp turn in the minor Roman road between Canterbury and Reculver at Herne.
The word Hythe or Hithe is an Old English word that means haven or landing place.
The town of Hythe was likely given that name due to its coastal location from those travelling by sea who landed there.
Isle of Sheppey
The Isle of Sheppey name is derived from the Old English word sceapig, which literally means "Sheep Island".
Much of the island is low-lying and used for grazing throughout history, which is likely how it got its name.
Lydd was one of the first sandy islands to form as the bay evolved into what is now the Romney Marsh.
Its original name of Hlyda derives from the Latin word for “shore" and can be dated back to a Saxon charter from the 8th century.
Essentially, the name Lydd comes from its seaside location and was originally called what translates to ‘shore’.
The name Maidstone is derived from the Saxon Maeidesstana, given as Meddestane in Domesday Book 1086, and is taken to mean “the maidens’ stone”.
The spelling of the name Margate may have shifted over the years, but it has always remained recognisable to its current form.
The town was recorded as Meregate in 1264 before being referred to as Margate in 1299.
It is thought that the name refers to pool gates or gaps in Thanet's chalk cliffs where pools of water are found – and often dived into by swimmers.
The name Romney is derived from the Old English word meaning 'at the spacious or wide river'.
It is recorded in 895 as Rumenea, and in a charter dated 914 as Rumenesea.
This led to the derivations Romenel or Romenal and Romney.
The present place names appear as Rumney, Old Rumney in 1575, and as Romney, Old Romney in 1610.
The earliest reference to Ramsgate as a town is in the Kent Hundred Rolls of 1275-6, where it is spelled Remisgat.
There also appeared to be a notable person named Christina de Remmesgate living in the area.
Later on, in 1290, records kept in the parish of St Laurence refer to both a Ramisgate and Raunsgate.
It is thought the origins of the name comes from the late Anglo-Saxon words for raven (hremmes) and gate (geat), which could reference the gap in the cliffs, meaning it was essentially called Raven Gate originally.
The Romano-British name for Rochester was Durobrivae, later Durobrivis in 730 and Dorobrevis in 844.
The two commonly cited origins of this name are that it either came from "stronghold by the bridge" or is the Latinisation of the British word Dourbruf meaning "swiftstream".
In later times, the word cæster, meaning castle from the Latin castrum, was added to the name and the city was called Robrivis Cæster.
In 730, the city is mistakenly called Hrofæscæstre. In 811 it becomes Hrofescester, then Rovescester in 1086.
By 1610, it became what it is still known as today – Rochester.
Sandwich first appears in an Anglo-Saxon chronicle as Sondwic in 851 and then Sandwic in 993. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it appears as Sandwice. The name -wich comes from the Anglo Saxon -wīc, meaning a dwelling or fortified place where trade takes place.
The name Sandwich essentially means "market town on sandy soil".
And for those wondering, yes that bread based snack with a filling we now know as a sandwich did indeed derive from the Kent town.
It is named after John Montagu who became the 4th Earl of Sandwich in 1729.
There are many contrasting stories about the circumstances which led to its invention, but one thing for sure is that it was Lord Sandwich who created the sandwich.
The original sandwich was a piece of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread.
The name Sevenoaks originated from the Saxon word 'Seouenaca' – a name which was given in about 800 AD to a small chapel near seven oak trees in Knole Park.
Although the exact origin of the name Sheerness has never been determined, the most likely theory is that it it comes from Old English words that meant 'bright headland'.
Scir meant bright or gleaming, and naess means a ness or headland, so a combination of the two creates Scirnaess which eventually became Sheerness in modern English.
It’s thought that Sittingbourne owes its name to a modernised version of an observation on its location.
The town's name is said to have come from the fact that there is a small stream or "bourne" running underground in part of the town.
In the 1790s, a book called History of Kent explained that Sittingbourne was anciently written ‘Sedingbourne’ and in Saxon ‘Saedingburga’, which essentially meant the hamlet by the bourne or small stream.
The Kent Hundred Rolls of 1274-5 records Sittingbourne as Sydingeburn.
Snodland first appears in history in a charter of the year 838, in which King Egbert of Wessex gave "four ploughlands in the place called Snoddingland and Holanbeorge" to the Bishop of Rochester.
It’s thought the name refers to cultivated land connected with Snodd or Snodda. The Domesday Book refers to the town as "Esnoiland".
The town was recorded in the Domesday Book 1087 as Tonebrige, which may indicate a bridge belonging to the estate or manor, from the Old English tun.
Alternatively, it could have been a bridge belonging to Tunna, a common Anglo-Saxon man's name.
Another theory suggests that the name is a contraction of "town of bridges", due to the large number of streams the High Street originally crossed.
Until 1870, the town's name was spelt Tunbridge, as shown on old maps including the 1871 Ordnance Survey map.
In 1870, this was changed to Tonbridge by the GPO due to confusion with nearby Tunbridge Wells, despite Tonbridge being a much older settlement.
Tunbridge Wells has always maintained the same spelling.
The town's name is derived from the Old English Tenetwaradenn, meaning a denn or swine-pasture for the men of Thanet.
Meaning 'bridge of the town' from the Old English tun meaning an enclosure, village or estate and brycg meaning bridge.
The name Wells refers to the medicinal water springs discovered in the 17th century.
Meanwhile, the ‘Royal’ title the town was given came from Edward VII on account of its popularity among members of the royal family.
Royal Tunbridge Wells is generally just referred to as Tunbridge Wells.
The town of Whitstable was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, under the name Witenestaple, meaning "the meeting place of the white post", which referred to a local landmark.
Did we miss out any Kent towns or the town you live in? Let us know in the comments below and we will add it to the list.