Monday, April 23rd 2018
Dartford lies in the county of Kent beside the River Darent from which it is said to take its name, there having been a ford where the settlement grew up. Thus ‘Darent Ford’ became ‘Dartford’.
The railway reached Dartford in 1849 and an Italianate station was build to receive it but the station was rebuilt in 2012-3 which accounts for the rather anodyne fish-tank appearance of it today.
From the station we set off on foot to explore. A short distance beyond the station we encountered the footbridge but we took the steps instead.
We found ourselves in the High Street, a long street of shops running through the heart of Dartford, now happily pedestrianized.
At the eastern end of the High Street, resting upon the bank of the Darent, is Dartford’s parish church, Holy Trinity. The original church is said to have been built by Bishop Gundulf in 1080, possibly replacing an earlier Anglo-Saxon church. The Normans added a lot to it and there were further alterations over the next few centuries. It retains a somewhat castle look which derives, I imagine, from the Normans.
This pretty façade contains the entrance to Dartford Museum. Entering Dartford Central Park to the right of the building, we find a rather similar view.
This façade contains the entrance to Dartmouth Public Library. As you have probably guessed, the museum and the library are both part of a single building and there is an interior doorway joining them. The library was opened in 1916 and subsequently extended and the museum came to join it a for years later.
The library has a decorative cupola and inside this corresponds to a handsome ceiling dome.
In the park, the War Memorial stands upon a grassy mound. It was unveiled in 1922 in honour of those who gave their lives in the First World War but, sadly, it had to be modified in due course to record the fallen of the Second World War and the Korean War. The figure was sculpted by Arthur G. Walker, R.A.
We found ourselves back in the High Street where I took the above photos, looking east (upper) and west (lower).
This building caught my attention because of its elaborately decorated façade. I don’t have a date for it but suppose it is Victorian. The ground floor has been ‘modernized’ but the upper floors remain as original. I believe the building was once occupied by a bank and building society.
I photographed this, not because I like it but because I was bemused by the half-hearted attempt to ‘Tudorize’ it. I don’t think it ever was a Tudor building, though its history has been obscured by alterations, leaving a rather sad ‘neither one thing nor the other’ mongrel.
This was the State Cinema that opened in 1935. It had an Art Deco interior and was supplied with a theatre organ for incidental music. In 1949 it became the Granada, having been bought by the company of the same name. With the decline in cinema attendance it was sold in 1979 and suffered the familiar fate of old cinemas, becoming a bingo hall. In 2014, its fortunes changed again when it was sold to become a church.
Recalling somewhat the castle-like form of Holy Trinity, this Methodist Church also sports crenelated towers. It was built in 1844-5 to a design by William Pocock and is Grade II listed.
What was once the County Court still retains the royal coat of arms over the door, testifying to its legitimacy. It was built in the 1850s but in the modern era was sold off and turned into a pub. When I photographed it, the place was closed and looking rather abandoned but I believe there are plans to reopen it as a pub. It is Grade II listed.
Also Grade II listed is the old pub called the Royal Oak. It is a timber-framed building probably dating from the 17th century but somewhat altered, especially in its outward appearance, in the 19th.
Dartford seems a pleasant, quiet Kentish town, well worth a visit.