Discover Eastchurch, Harty & Elmley


The quiet parish of Eastchurch is surrounded by country walks with some beautiful views across the Swale and to the north of the Thames Estuary. The area is also steeped in history. In 1909, Eastchurch became a leading centre in the country for aviation. It is styled the ‘home of British aviation’ as Eastchurch airfield saw the first controlled flight by a British pilot on home soil. Notable names from the past flew both here and at Muswell Manor in Leysdown such as Frank McClean, Moore-Brabazon, Charles S
 Rolls, Cecil Grace and the Wright Brothers. A stained glass window in the
 south side of All Saints’ Church in Eastchurch was dedicated to Rolls and Grace, who were killed in July and December 1910 respectively. An aviation memorial is in the centre of the village, opposite the church.

Shurland Hall in the village has been renovated and restored for private use and has been connected with many families including the Cheynes who were here in 1274, and Sir John Stanley, who was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in the 15th century. In 1532 Henry VIII showed that he had forgiven Cheyne of a previous encounter by making him a New Year’s gift by spending two days with Anne Boleyn at Shurland.


Visit the small early Norman Church of St Thomas the Apostle 
at Harty as it stands sentinel overlooking the Swale and you will be amply rewarded with its timeless atmosphere. It happens to be one
 of the oldest and most remotest churches in Kent. Still lit by oil lamps and candles, the 920-year-old building contains such treasures as a 14th century wooden chest with a carved design of jousting knights. Why not then take a well-earned rest at the Ferry House Inn or cycle the route from Harty to Muswell Manor in Leysdown? For more cycling routes go to


If you thought there was no wilderness left in the South East, go to Elmley National Nature Reserve: A special, peaceful landscape, dominated by soul-stirring skies. A visit starts with an exciting two-mile drive across the vast wetlands – spot hares, lapwings, curlews and maybe an owl as you go. From the car park there is a mile walk alongside the marshes down to the hides. You will be rewarded with the sight of thousands of wading birds and will often see a bird of prey swooping across the reed beds.

How about waking up to this wilderness with the sun rising over the expanse of meadows and water, or watching an owl hunting at dusk before falling asleep to the chorus 
of marsh frogs?  This summer there will be accommodation available at Elmley–the only place in the country where you can spend the night in a National Nature Reserve! Visit for more information.

Other Nature Experiences

For more outstanding wildlilfe visit the RSPB Capel Fleet Bird of Prey Viewpoint on the Harty Ferry Road, near Leysdown

Also don’t forget the Swale National Nature Reserve uk/ourwork/conservation/ designations/nnr/1006143.aspx