Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Isle of Sheppey

This land on the north Kent coast is a reciprocal of the wonderful flat lands of south Essex; Canvey Island, Southend-on-Sea. It was a natural destination for Trevor and I to visit in our ‘Travels with my architect’ series’.

It was a grey morning as we crossed over the bridge and onto the island.The main town, Sheerness, once a naval base as important as Portsmouth, is now kiss-me-quick and blessed with some exceptionally friendly people. 

For breakfast we’d recommend Casey’s CafĂ© and the ‘big breakfast’, which comes with good advice on what to see on Sheppey and how to get there.
The start point for a visit

Moments away in Blue Town there is the largest open-air store of garden statuary and garden ornaments in England. People come to Whelan’s from across the country to buy Buddha’s, bird baths, Greek gods, Chinese emperors.  I bought a goddess and Trevor brought a crocodile.
All sorts of pieces for the garden

We explored Sheppey with its view across to Essex and the rest of north Kent: Fields and marshes and farms. Curlews cry from the small estuaries that are part of the flat landscape.  Today’s Sheppey was historically known as the “Isles of Sheppey” which were Sheppey itself, the Isle of Harty and the Isle of Elmley. 

Over time the channels between the isles have silted up to make one continuous island.
Harty Church
We called in on the pretty church at Harty before heading back into Kent proper. The church has been here for over 900 years. There is much to admire inside and the Victorian restoration was not overwrought.

 “Alas I shall have to console myself with memories of the Church in its splendid isolation, with sea birds wheeling by and the Thames so wide as to be open sea.

Wrote John Betjeman after his visit to Harty Church.