Gravesend is a town in northwest Kent on the banks of the River Thames. A town full of historical military heritage, its centre is undergoing a redevelopment that is seeing more riverside homes and a rejuvenated indoor market and renovated Old Town Hall and court room buildings. There are good commuter links to London, with High Speed rail services taking just 23 minutes, and connections to Europe via the nearby Ebbsfleet International Station. Central London is 27 miles via the A2, which runs along the town's southern edge.
The busy shopping area, cinema and the Woodville Halls theatre attract people from across the region, while Bluewater shopping Centre, the largest of its kind in Europe, is six miles' drive. The newly opened Westfield shopping centre at Stratford and the Olympic Park are 16 minutes by High Speed rail from Gravesend station. Out of town, Shorne Woods Country Park and the Cyclopark provide for those looking for outdoor pursuits.
Here's a guide to some of the villages around Gravesend that property buyers and renters might consider in their house-hunting.
Chalk is now part of the urban area of Gravesend, but this former village, lying between the A226 Rochester Road and the River Thames, is famously where Charles Dickens took his honeymoon with his wife Kate. Set on a bed of chalk and flint, the village was a centre of gun flint production for centuries, but now retains much of its village feel; with a village hall and church, and the White Hart Inn Harvester Restaurant.
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A few miles east of Chalk is the village of Higham. Split into two distinct parts, Lower Higham is the original Saxon village to the north, and the newer areas around the A226 Gravesend to Rochester Road are known simply as Higham. Higham station offers rail journeys to London of 42 minutes to St Pancras and around an hour to Cannon Street. The village school, shops, restaurants and takeaways are mainly based in the newer part, and residents can enjoy the local tennis courts and recreation ground. Gads Hill, former home to Charles Dickens, is now a school, and cements the area's links with the famous author.
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Maintaining the Dickens theme, the village of Cobham was described by Mr Pickwick as "one of the prettiest and most desirable places of residence". The village sits six miles southeast of Gravesend in a conservation area surrounded by open space and Forestry Commission land, and adjacent to Cobham Hall, the 17th-century former home of the Earls of Darnley, now a girls' boarding school. The village is home to around 1,500 people, with The Darnley Arms, The Ship Inn, various small shops, churchand primary school situated along The Street, the narrow main road that runs through the heart of the village.
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Meopham is six miles south of Gravesend on the A227 Wrotham Road. Thought to be the longest village in Kent, the village street is seven miles long. The village has three village greens, with Meopham Green being the largest and home to the village cricket pitch and two pubs. Killick's Mill, a fully restored working windmill, is a popular attraction, as are the many walks and bridle ways in the surrounding woods and forests. The village has three schools and a number of shops, restaurants and takeaways, and trains from Meopham station take 45 minutes to London Victoria, making this a popular area for commuters. There are many large homes along main road, with newer developments of bungalows and semi-detached properties set in smaller estate roads behind.
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Three miles south of Gravesend and two miles from the mainline rail station at Meopham, is the village of Istead Rise. Boasting a popular school, dentist and doctor's surgery, the village has grown from a small farming community in the 19th century to a large residential area, home to 3,500 people. Village life, which includes a range of clubs and societies, centres around the Community Centre, rebuilt after a fire in 2007 destroyed the old buildings.
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Luddesdown sits in a valley in the North Down in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A few miles south of Gravesend, the village is popular with those wanting to be close to the good transport links and facilities of the town but seeking a more country lifestyle. The former school is now the village hall, and is central to village life. Within the parish are the settlements of Henley Street, Great Buckland and Boughurst Street. With evidence of an Iron Age settlement, the village provides a wealth of history for visitors, and the Cock Inn, Henley Street, provides a warm and friendly welcome.
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Vigo Village was built in the 20th century on the site of an old army camp after the Second World War. Set in woodland alongside Trosley Country Park, this North Downs village is laid out along wide woodland roads with spacious modern houses. It has a primary school and church and a range of shops including a village store and post office, florist, fish and chip shop and Indian restaurant, while the village hall and library host a range of activities, pre-school and baby clinics, including brownies, guides, gardening and judo clubs.
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