Skip to main content
ThinkstockPhotos-144803293

Sandwich

Still looking like it’s just woken up from a long medieval nap, Sandwich is one of the most architecturally important towns in Britain, with street after street of beautifully preserved and restored buildings reflecting centuries of slow evolution. The town itself is older yet, with the Roman Invasion of Britain having set down right on our shores in AD43, the ruins of Richborough Fort still marking the spot. Since the time of Ethelred and Canute, the Kings and Queens of England have been regular visitors, setting off here for the continent and returning from their travels, devoting time to one of the most important ports and most affluent towns of its age. Richard the Lionheart stayed here, as did Elizabeth the First. Henry VIII has a house named after his stay. Henry III doesn’t.

After a first golden age between the 11th and 13th Centuries, when its value as one of the Head Ports was almost unrivalled, the town enjoyed a second spell of prosperity with the arrival of Flemish refugees in the 16th Century. Bringing with them new skills and traditions, Sandwich was transformed into a textile and trading town. As the river silted up and the port business shifted down the coast, the town nonetheless thrived, leading to the creation of many of the impressive buildings we still see today.

After a period of comparative quiet, Sandwich was reinvigorated by the arrival of the railway in the mid 19th Century, taking it into easy reach of London and bringing a wave of tourists not seen since its days as a key staging post for travelling pilgrims. Then, just as now, visitors came to delight in the ancient streets, the jettied houses and the wood-beamed pubs. They may even have taken a drink at The Salutation Pub, up by the church, little imagining that the market garden rolling out to the north would soon enough be home to the town’s most impressive building yet.

You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours. Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Dorothy's water colour pot