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Tilbury (London), England, United Kingdom

Tilbury sits along the River Thames just 30 miles from London, earning the moniker, “Quay to the Capital.” Tilbury Fort protected London’s seaward approach from the 16th century through World War II; the current structure – complete with moats and projecting bastions – is the finest example of its kind in Britain. The surrounding countryside is dotted with castles, and both Rochester Castle – an imposing, 12th-century fortress noted for its 113-foot-high keep (stone tower) ­– and Upnor Castle, which offers a rare glimpse inside an Elizabethan artillery fort, are worth visiting. The Lullingstone Roman Villa in nearby Kent ranks among England’s most outstanding survivals; built between 100 and 400 AD, it boasts spectacular mosaics, a heated bath-suite, and a home chapel. Directly across the river from Tilbury in Gravesend stands the country house where Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations and other novels.