Dartford is a town in the north-west corner of Kent, the Romans founded Dartford at a ford across the River Darent, and the town name arises from ‘Darent ford’. Dartford increased in prosperity throughout the Middle Ages, due to its position on the central pilgrim route to Canterbury.
Dartford was established as a river crossing-point with the Romans’ coming; and as a focal point among two routes: that from west to east being part of the main road joining London with the Continent.
The Saxons may have established the initial settlement where Dartford now stands. Dartford manor is named in the Domesday Book, composed in 1086, following the Norman conquest. The king then owned it.
During the 12th century the Knights Templar had ownership of the manor of Dartford; the National Trust property at Sutton-at-Hone, to the south of the town, is a surviving part of that history. In the 14th century, a priory was founded here. Two friars collections—the Dominicans and the Franciscans—built hospitals here to care for the suffering. By this time the town became a small but necessary market town.
From humble origins in the 18th century was to come the industrial base on which the growth and expansion of Dartford were founded. In 1840, Saunders & Harrison’s mustard factory was reported as “possibly the kingdom’s biggest.”
Dartford Heath is an established Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It includes three ponds (Donkey Pond, Woodland Pond and North Pond) and a variety of habitats: including acid grassland, broadleaved semi-natural woodland, heather and gorse, as well as different plant life.
Dartford has two significant buildings involved with performance art. The Orchard Theatre, positioned in the town centre, is thoroughly professional, providing audiences with an extensive range of drama, dance, music and entertainment. The Mick Jagger Centre (built-in Dartford Grammar School) in Shepherds Lane was finished in 2000. It provided community arts facilities across a vast region.