Sandwich

Street Map 1927 Tour of England

Sandwich is a historic town and civil parish on the River Stour in the Non-metropolitan district of Dover, within the ceremonial county of Kent, south-east England. It has a population of 6,800.

It was one of the Cinque Ports and still has many original medieval buildings, including several listed public houses and gates in the old town walls, churches, almshouses and the White Mill. While once a major port, it is now two miles from the sea, its historic centre preserved.

Sandwich Bay is home to nature reserves and two world-class golf courses, Royal St George’s and Prince’s. The town is also home to educational and cultural events.

The name is of Danish origin, meaning a sand place or camp on a bay (vig, wich) or near the mouth of a river.

In 1028 King Canute granted a charter to the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury to operate a ferry across the river and collect tolls.

The Port of Sandwich is no stranger to odd events in English history. It was here in 1255 that the first captive elephant was landed in England. The prize beast arrived at Sandwich quayside, delivered as a gift to the English monarch Henry III, from the French king, and was then taken on foot to the king’s zoo at the Tower of London. The journey through Kent is reported to have proceeded without incident, except when a bull in a field adjacent to the roadside took umbrage to the great beast passing and attacked it. In one move the animal was thrown by the elephant and killed outright.

Before Sandwich became a Cinque Port, the ancient Saxon town of Stonar, located on the bank of the Wantsum estuary, but on the opposite side of the mouth of the River Stour, was already well established. It remained a place of considerable importance until it disappeared almost without trace in the 14th century. The ruins of the major Roman fort of Richborough are close by. It was the landing place of the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43. The 2008 discovery proved that this was a defensive site of a Roman beachhead, protecting 700 metres of coast.

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

The Fisher Gate on the quay dates from 1384 and has been scheduled as an Ancient Monument. It is the only one of the original mediaeval town gates to survive. It is a Grade I listed building. The nearby Barbican dates from the 14th century and stands at the end of the bridge over the River Stour where it acted as a toll house.

On 28 August 1457, after four years of uneasy peace in England the king presided over a wasting realm, with feudal barons lording over the population of the north and the west of the realm. The French took advantage of the situation by sending a raiding party to Kent, burning much of Sandwich to the ground. A force of around 4,000 men from Honfleur, under the command of Marshal de Breze came ashore to pillage the town, in the process murdering the mayor, John Drury. It thereafter became an established tradition, which survives to this day, that the Mayor of Sandwich wears a black robe in mourning for this ignoble deed.

Sandwich was later to gain significantly 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.

The title Earl of Sandwich was created in 1660 for the prominent naval commander Admiral Sir Edward Montagu.

In 1759, Thomas Paine had his home and shop in a house at 20 New Street, Sandwich. The house is now marked with a plaque and is a listed building.

In 1912 Sir Edwin Lutyens built The Salutation in Queen Anne style. The gardens were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.

In 1980 Jean Barker was made Baroness Trumpington of Sandwich.

The town and parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council’s role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.

The town falls within the Non-metropolitan district of Dover. The district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.

Kent County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.

It is also part of a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and at the general election in 2010 became part of the South Thanet constituency. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South East England constituency of the European Parliament which elects ten MEPs using the d’Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.

Sandwich is twinned with Ronse in Belgium, Honfleur in France and Sonsbeck in Germany.

There is Monk’s Wall nature reserve and a bird observatory at Sandwich Bay, which provides a home for wild duck and other wildlife in a wetland habitat. The reserve was opened by celebrity bird-watcher Bill Oddie in May 2000. Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust proposed the design and a Management plan including modifications to ditches and control of water levels to create ecological conditions that attract wetland species of plants, animals and birds. Historically the land was reclaimed from the river and sea by the monks of Sandwich and the northern boundary is still the old Monks’ wall of the 13th century. In the 1953 floods the sea covered the whole area around Sandwich and after these fields were drained a new river bank was created and the land ploughed for arable farming with heavy use of fertiliser.

There is also a 15 acres (6.1 ha) Local Nature Reserve known as Gazen Salts.

Sandwich lies at the southern end of Pegwell Bay which includes a large nature reserve, known for its migrating waders and wildfowl, with a complete series of seashore habitats including extensive mudflats and salt marsh.

The local economy has benefited from significant investment by Pfizer UK, the British subsidiary of the multinational pharmaceuticals company Pfizer, which has built a research and development centre near Sandwich, employing over 3,000 people. Laboratory experiments at the site have aroused negative comment by animal rights activists. On June 18, 2007 Pfizer announced it will move the Sandwich Animal Health Research (VMRD) division to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Several important drugs including Viagra, Pfizer’s treatment for erectile dysfunction and Maraviroc, a drug used for treatment of HIV, were discovered here. On 1 February 2011 Pfizer announced that the entire research and development facility at Sandwich would be closed within 18–24 months, with a loss of 2,400 jobs, though it later announced up to 650 jobs would stay. The University of Kent is considering use of the campus style site.

The Guildhall, in the town square, was built in 1579. Work in 1812 encased the building in yellow brick, this was removed 100 years later in 1912, when the south-west wing was also added. Further alterations were undertaken later in the 20th century. It contains antique panelling and paintings, particularly within the council chamber. It is a Grade II* listed building. It includes a stained glass window, showing Queen Elizabeth I arriving at Sandown Gate in 1573, which was added in 1906.

The Admiral Owen is a pub in a two storey 15th century timber-framed building. It was refronted in the 18th century but this preserved the overhang of its 1st floor on a Bressummer and massive corner post with 3 brackets. The nearby Crispin Inn was originally called the Crispin and Crispianus. It has similar timber framing and was built in the 16th century. Across the road on the quay is the Bell Hotel, which underwent major rebuilding in the 18th and 19th centuries. There’s been a Bell Inn on the quay since the 14th century.

The three pubs cluster around The Barbican which was built in the late 14th century. It consists of 2 round towers, with chequered work of stone and flints. A narrow road passes between the towers with a semi-circular timber barrel roof over it. A small 2-storeyed 20th century house built on to north side of the north west tower was occupied by the toll collector for the bridge. The bridge itself was built in 1773 of Portland stone with a Dutch type timber raised platform which was replaced in 1892 with an iron swing bridge.

Sandwich has had at least eight windmills over the centuries, the earliest reference to a mill being dated 1608. Two windmills were marked by Hasted at the New Cut on the Stour estuary. They were most likely pumping mills associated with the saltworks there in the late eighteenth century.

The White Mill is the only survivor. It was built in 1760 and worked by wind until 1929, then by engine until 1957. Today it has been restored and is a heritage and folk museum. The Black Mill was a smock mill which burnt down circa 1910. There was also a post mill which stood near the Black Mill, and was worked in conjunction with it. A smock mill on the Millwall was also known as the Town Mill. It was burnt down. Another mill of unknown type is known to have stood on the Millwall. A sixth windmill stood to the north west of Sandwich, and west of the railway. It formed a group of three with the Black Mill and its neighbour.

The town is served by Sandwich railway station. It was formerly also served by Sandwich Road railway station on the East Kent Light Railway.

Sandwich has been bypassed by the A256 road, which connects the Thanet towns to Dover. It is reached from Canterbury by the A257, which joins the A256 at Sandwich.

St Bartholomews Chapel was restored and enlarged by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 19th century. Nearby were two religious almshouses; St. Barts Hospital dates back to around 1190 and St. Thomas’s Hospital which was built in the 14th century and named in honour of St. Thomas Becket.

The Church of St Peter includes some evidence of early Norman work, but was rebuilt in the early 13th century. In 1661 the top of the central tower collapsed, destroying the south aisle. The Anglican parish church is St. Clement which has a tower dating from the latter half of the 12th century, with the rest of the church being from the 12th and 14th centuries. St Mary’s Church also has Norman features and was built on the site of a convent founded by Domne Eafe, cousin to King Ecgberht of Kent.

Sandwich has two world-class golf courses, Royal St George’s which hosts The Open Championship approximately 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 has returned to Sandwich in 2011.

The town’s connection with the snack of the same name is that John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who lived in the 18th century allegedly invented it. It is said that he ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread. Because Montagu also happened to be the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, others began to order “the same as Sandwich!” However, the exact circumstances of the invention are still the subject of debate. A rumour in a contemporary travel book called Tour to London (although not confirmed) by Pierre Jean Grosley formed the popular myth that bread and meat sustained Lord Sandwich at the gambling table. The sober alternative is provided by Sandwich’s biographer, N. A. M. Rodger, who suggests Sandwich’s commitments to the navy, to politics and the arts mean the first sandwich was more likely to have been consumed at his desk.

The town of Sandwich has an annual festival period towards the end of August where a number of events are staged. During Sandwich festivals of the past there have been European markets, motorcycle meets, illuminated boat parade or dressed ship parade on The Quay, a street Barn Dance, various concerts (both classical and modern pop/rock), Simultaneous Chess Tournament with Grand Master John Emms and a vintage Car Show. The festival usually lasts for 8 days.

Sandwich has two paid-for newspapers, the Deal and Sandwich Express (published by Kent Regional News and Media) and the East Kent Mercury (published by the KM Group).

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