Sandwich Tourist Guide

Introduction

Sandwich is a town in Kent which was one of the Cinque Ports and still has many original mediaeval buildings.

While once a major port, it is now two miles from the sea. Before Sandwich became a CinquePort, the early Saxon town of Stonar, located on the opposite bank of the Wantsum estuary, at the mouth of the River Stour, was already well established and remained a place of significant importance until it disappeared almost without trace in the 14th century.

On 21 May 1216, Prince Louis of France landed at Sandwich in support of the baron's war against King John.

 

In 1457, after four years of uneasy peace in England, the king ruled over a weakening country, with feudal barons controlling the population of the north and the west. The French took advantage of the situation by sending a raiding party to Kent, burning the Cinque Port of Sandwich to the ground. A force of 4,000 men from Honfleur, under the command of Marshal de Breze, came ashore to pillage the town and in the process murdered the mayor, John Drury. It has since then became an established tradition, which still survives today, that the Mayor of Sandwich wears a black robe in mourning for this deed.

 

Sandwich was later to gain considerably from the skills brought to the town by many Dutch settlers who were granted the right to settle by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. These settlers brought with them techniques of market gardening and were responsible for growing the first English celery! The Huguenot refugees also brought over Dutch architectural techniques that are now as much a part of Kent as the thatched cottage. In addition techniques of silk manufacture were imported, enhancing the Kent cloth industry. Protestants fleeing persecution in the Netherlands and France settled after 1560 and introduced dyke drainage to permit market gardening, weaving and other skills such as clay tile making which give us our characteristic Kent peg tiles, as well as numerous Dutch gabled houses

 

Sandwich today

Sandwich has two world-class golf courses - Royal St George's which hosts The Open Championship every 10 years and Prince's which hosted The Open Championship in 1932 and is currently an Open Championship Final Qualifying course. The Open Championship returns to Sandwich in 2013.

 

There is Monk's Wall Nature Reserve and a bird observatory at SandwichBay. The site has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation for its nature conservation interest. The site consists of tidal rivers/estuaries with allied mud and sand flats and lagoons, salt marsh, sand-dune habitats and marshes.

 

The local economy has benefited from significant investment by Pfizer, a US pharmaceuticals company, which has built a research and development centre near Sandwich, employing over 5,000 people.

 

Attractions

Although the major part of the old wall itself has disappeared the raised earthen-works remain, and now provides a scenic walk right around the central conservation area of the town with views across the Kent peg tiled roofs of the ancient buildings.

 

Dating from Elizabethan times with modern enlargements, the Guildhall can be hired for functions, and provides interesting tours which include the Mayors Parlour and the AncientCourtRoom. The museum tells the story of Sandwich from early medieval times. There are many well designed illustrative panels relating to the town's history with artefacts dating back to the 13th century. Tel: +44 01304 617197.

 

A charming regular daily River Bus summer service to Richborough Roman Fort departs from the Quay by the Old Toll Bridge, allowing visitors to view different parts of Sandwich, the River Stour and her wildlife. In autumn and spring sailings are available from Thursday to Sunday, and in winter on Sundays.

 

The 13 acres of the man-made Gazen Salts Nature Reserve with 1.5 miles of winding paths lead through woodland to several different habitats, including waterways, lake, pond, reed bed and experimental area. The area provides a safe roost for many birds in winter, and is home to a small collection of pinioned wildfowl (their wings clipped to stop them flying away).

 

The WhiteMillFolkMuseumis a restored smock mill dating from 1760. It houses original machinery and agricultural displays.  There is also a restored cottage furnished in pre-1939 style, forge, wheelwrights shop and corn grinding engine. It is the only mill in Kent to have the complete mill complex - cottage, granary, cart lodge and laundry building, all restored and containing relevant artefacts. There is also a cobbler's shop. Tel: 01304 612076.

 

Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory is a field study centre providing a seven day a week study facilities and bunk house accommodation, with regular talks, walks over the nature reserve and special events. There are opportunities to see birds at close quarters. SandwichBay is frequented by many migratory birds and there are regular sightings of rare species.

 

The impressive ruin of defensive ditches and huge walls which forms Richborough Roman Fort (Rutupiae) was the site from which the Romans launched their successful invasion of Britain in AD43 and later became an important supply base. It was first fortified in the 3rd century by triple defences around a triumphal arch and then by massive, surviving walls of a Saxon shore fort built around AD276. Now it is an English Heritage site with a small museum, shop and ample car park.

Tel: 01304

 

Empire Cinema Tel:

620480 15 Delf Street

 

Taxis

A M Cars, 11 Wantsume Lees Tel: 01304 614209

Sandwich Cars, 12a Delf Street Tel: 01304 617424

Stour Cars, 3 Wantsume Lees Tel: 01304 612897

Airport Direct, White Friars Way Tel:01304 615408

 

Tourist Information Centre, The Guildhall, Sandwich, KentCT13 9AH Open April to October. Tel / Fax: +44 (0)1304 613565

 

Other times of the year: Contact the Town Clerk's Office at www.sandwichtowncouncil.gov.uk/contact/index.htm

 

 

Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.



Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015