Gravesend is an ancient town, the administrative centre of the Borough of Gravesham. Its geographical situation has given Gravesend strategic importance throughout the maritime and communications history of SE England. It has strong links with the River Thames, not least through the Port of London Authority Pilot Station.
On 21 March 1617, John Rolfe and his Native American wife Rebecca (Pocahontas), boarded a ship in London bound for Virginia; the ship had only sailed as far as Gravesend before Rebecca fell ill, and she died shortly after she was taken ashore. Her funeral and interment took place that day at St George's parish church.