Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Isle of Thanet

The Isle of Thanet is a coastal district of Kent, with a number of popular seaside towns.

It is still technically an island, separated from the mainland by the River Stour and the tiny River Wansum. Most visitors, however, fail to notice that they have crossed the latter.

But until historical times Thanet was a proper island, with the Wansum channel between it and the rest of Kent.

The name Thanet is one of oldest names in Britain. It means "Fire Island", referring to a beacon which used to act as an early form of lighthouse.

Shipping approaching the estuary of the River Thames from the South coast and France would use the Wansum rather than sailing around the island, which would have been much more dangerous.

There was a Roman fort on the landward side of the Wansum at both ends, at Reculver and Richborough.

Ebbsfleet is the traditional landing place of the legendary Jutish brothers Hengist and Horsa in 449. St. Augustine landed on the same spot, no doubt deliberately, at the start of his evangelising mission in 597.

Thanet has chalk cliffs and three popular seaside resorts - Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs.