Introducing Southeast England
A region riddled by contradictions, the southeast of England skips effortlessly between natural beauty and rock-candy kitsch, rich history and cutting-edge culture. The closest stretch of land to Continental Europe, it has a rough-and-ready military heritage. Yet thanks to its proximity to London it's also a middle-class stronghold of cosy home comforts and high property prices.
Fanning out from the capital are the Home Counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Surrey. Though known as the capital's wealthy and well-spoken commuter belt, there's more to them than suits and boots (of the Wellington variety). Sleepy villages, pretty market towns, stunning natural vistas and stately homes pepper the landscape. The whole area is accessible by day trip from London, so you can pop in and out for some respite from city life. That's exactly what the Queen does, spending private weekends at her castellated pad at Windsor Castle.
The southeast coast meanwhile was once the nation's front line of defence, bolstered by formidable cliffs, castles and fortified ports. But like a veteran soldier, it's now fonder of its own age-old tales and mellow ales than maintaining its vigil. The counties of Essex, Kent, East and West Sussex and Hampshire are enfolded in a blanket of agricultural fields and rolling chalk downs, speckled with medieval villages and ancient cathedral cities. A string of alternately tacky, nostalgic and hedonistic seaside resorts exploit the mild climate and fast links from London. In short, this is the ideal region to soak up some maritime history, dine out on seafood, and charge around beaches, battlegrounds and traditional boozers to your heart's content.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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