Kentish ragstone is a building stone that has been used – both historically and currently – throughout South East England. It is a hard, medium grey, sandy limestone from the Cretaceous era (and so is a ‘young’ limestone) that is quarried in Kent from the Hythe Formation of the Lower Greensand group.
In appearance, it has a rough, course texture that is difficult to work, so even carving square blocks can be difficult. For this reason, it does not tend to be suited to fine stonework; consequently, it is sometimes used for infilling a wall that is faced with a ‘fairer’ stone. However, due to the scarcity of good stone in the South East, it has become a very familiar building material in Kent and the neighbouring counties.
 Historical use
Historically, Kentish ragstone was quarried primarily around Maidstone, Kent, from where it could be easily shipped on barges down the River Medway, then carried up the Thames to places as far as Eton and Windsor.
The Romans used Kentish ragstone for the walls of Londinium. During the medieval period the material was in much demand in London for churches and engineering works such as river walls. It was also used on the Tower of London, Rochester Castle, the medieval Guildhall, London and Westminster Abbey, as well as numerous churches in Kent.
One of the most celebrated examples of Kentish ragstone is Knole House, near Sevenoaks, Kent, built in 1456, where the material is seen extensively for window surrounds, string courses, copings and finials, all demonstrating that it can achieve a good finish if carefully chosen.
Possibly due to its hard, uncoursed, irregularly bonded and rubble-like consistency, Kentish ragstone remained a favoured building stone for Victorian churches. However, the course, uneven texture may attract dirt which can mar the aesthetics.
Today, Kentish ragstone is still used in Kent as a vernacular material for building and repair work but its use in surrounding regions is generally limited due to the difficult processes involved and the variable nature of the material. As a result, it is sold by the tonne and can be used for gabion walling, as a general construction aggregate, and for resurfacing paths.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Choosing stone.
- Defects in stonework.
- Finding stone to conserve historic buildings.
- Inspecting stone sample panels.
- Limestone for building.
- Modern Stonemasonry.
- Natural stone cladding.
- Natural stone.
- Portland Stone.
- Sourcing stone to repair Exeter Cathedral.
- Stone dressing.
- Tufa and tuff
- Types of stone.
The IHBC seeks to raise awareness and understanding of how building conservation philosophy and practice contributes towards meeting the challenge of climate change.
From Amenity Societies and Wentworth Woodhouse to Kurt Schwitters, Scotland’s Towns, Chester and more...
The former Royal High School building in Edinburgh is to be transformed into a £55 million national centre for music after the City of Edinburgh Council agreed to the lease of the historic property.
The joint-institute document aims to help maintain cultural heritage by providing a consistent framework across different sectors & geographies
IHBC’s Gus Astley Student Awards 2021: Win £500 and a place on IHBC’s 2022 Aberdeen School with your built environment/heritage coursework, closes 31/07!
The last remaining buildings on the site of the Harris meat factory family’s historic mansion are being restored to their former glory and converted into new homes.
The Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV Forum) has unveiled a new guide to the crucial and increasingly complex issue of professional indemnity insurance (PII).
ICOMOS has advised that the new football stadium proposal, if implemented, would have a completely unacceptable major adverse impact its authenticity and integrity.
Responding to the changing working patterns of a post-Covid Scotland, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has revealed new plans to help retrofit public spaces into out-of-town alternatives to city centre offices.
The free-to-access online issue mixes the topical and practical to explore how the sector can best adapt to digital innovation.