Maidstone Museums

Maidstone is home to several specialist museums: The Maidstone Carriage Museum – The Tyrwhitt-Drake Collection – dubbed the finest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in Europe, The award-winning Kent Life and the Lashenden Air Warfare Museum. The town also offers the Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery- hailed as one of the finest regional museums in the South East.

Lashenden Air Warfare Museum

Aviation exhibits from 1911 to present day and wartime memorabilia, including a V1 piloted flying bomb.

Where is it?
Lashenden Air Warfare Museum
Headcorn Aerodrome
TN27 9HX

Tel: 01622 890226

Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery

The museum is housed in Chillington Manor, built in 1562 for Philip Barham the local M.P. The shields on the right outside the museum, (with the exception of the wavy line to represent the River Medway) are those of Archbishop Courtenay the succesor to Archbishop Sudbury and who was responsible for many of the medieval buildings in Maidstone.

Possibly the oldest known inhabitant of Maidstone was the Iguanodon — the fossilised remains were found in Queen’s Road in 1834. This dinosaur is incorporated in the towns coat-of-arms – the first time in the history of heraldry that a dinosaur has been used. The remains are displayed at the British Museum in London.

In 1855 Thomas Charles bequeathed his collection of antiquarian objects to the town, which then purchased his house and opened a museum to the public in January 1858.

In the late 19th Century an East and West wing was added to Chillington Manor to provide purpose built galleries, housing the collections of Maidstones many Victorian collectors and benefactors

Today the museum and art gallery is regarded as one of the foremost in the South-East, rich in fine, applied and oriental art, ethnography, archaeology natural, local and social history. The Earth Heritage Gallery and Egyptian Mummy are a favourite with the children.

Where is it?
Maidstone Museum
St. Faith Street
ME14 1LH

Tel: 01622 602838

Museum of Kent Life

Kent’s award-winning open air museum is home to an outstanding collection of historic buildings with exhibitions on life in Kent over the past 150 years. Also herb, hop and kitchen gardens, farm animals, venture playground and Britain’s last traditional working oast house. Wheelchair access restricted to ground floor only. Licensed tea-room.

Where is it?

Museum of Kent Life
Lock Lane
ME14 3AU

Tel: 01622 763936

Maidstone Carriage Museum – The Tyrwhitt Drake Collection

Situated in the 14th century stables of the Archbishops’ Palace, Maidstone Carriage Museum houses a unique collection of horse-drawn vehicles, including Royal and state carriages.

This collection was the first of its kind in Britain and is widely regarded as the finest in Europe. As well as the finest state carriages originally owned by Royalty and titled families, the collection also holds several more mundane vehicles such as governess carts and gigs, which older visitors may remember.

Where is it?
Maidstone Carriage Museum
Mill Street
ME15 6YE

Tel: 01622 602838