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The Chain - - 221295.jpg
The Chain, Sandwich
Grid reference: TR330581
Location: 51°16’30"N, 1°20’25"E
Population: 6,800  (2005 est.)
Post town: Sandwich
Postcode: CT13
Dialling code: 01304
Local Government
Council: Dover
South Thanet

Sandwich is a historic town in Kent standing on the River Stour.

Sandwich is one of the Cinque Ports, a sign of its mediæval importance and prosperity, and from those days it retains many impressive mediæval buildings, including several listed public houses and gates in the old town walls, churches, almshouses and the White Mill.

Once a major port, Sandwich is now two miles from the sea, its historic centre preserved but its historic role lost as the sea has retreated. The town still does well for itself and it plays host to a number of educational and cultural events.

At the seaside is Sandwich Bay, where there is a nature reserves and there are two world-class golf courses, Royal St George's and Prince's.

Name of the town

St Thomas' Hospital (14th C)

The name "Sandwich" is Old English: sand wic means "Sand Village".


In 1028 King Canute granted a charter to the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury to operate a ferry across the river at Sandwich and to 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 King 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.[1]

The Fisher Gate

Before Sandwich became a Cinque Port, the ancient Saxon town of Stonar, located on the bank of the Wantsum Channel, 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. This is believed by some to have been the landing place of the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD.[2] The 2008 discovery proved that this was a defensive site of a Roman beachhead, protecting 700 yards of coast.[3]

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 mediæval town gates to survive. It is a Grade I listed building.[4] 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.[5]

The Guildhall

On 28 August 1457, during a pause in the Wars of the Roses, the French took advantage of the weakened state of ther realm and sent 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 Admiral Sir Edward Montagu; a man of Huntingdonshire, an inland county, but a prominent and successful naval commander for all that.

In 1759, Thomas Paine had his home and shop in a house at 20 New Street, Sandwich.[6] The house is now marked with a plaque and is a listed building.[7]

In 1912 Sir Edwin Lutyens built The Salutation in Queen Anne style. The gardens were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.[8]

A map of Sandwich from 1945
Boats on the River Stour at Sandwich


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.</ref>

There is also a 15-acre Local Nature Reserve known as Gazen Salts.[9]

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 habitat (ecology)|habitats including extensive mudflats and salt marsh.

Sights of the town

The Barbican

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.[10] It includes a stained glass window, showing Queen Elizabeth I arriving at Sandown Gate in 1573, which was added in 1906.[11]

The Admiral Owen is a public house 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.[12] The nearby Crispin Inn was originally called the Crispin and Crispianus. It has similar timber framing and was built in the 16th century.[13] 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.[14]

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.[5] 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.[15]


White Mill

Sandwich has had at least eight windmills over the centuries, the earliest reference to a mill being dated 1608.[16] 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.[16]

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.[17] There was also a post mill which stood near the Black Mill, and was worked in conjunction with it.[17]

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.[17] 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.[17]


St. Peter's Church

The 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.[18]

St Mary's Church also has Norman features and was built on the site of a convent said to have been founded by Domne Eafe, a cousin to King Ecgberht of Kent.[19]

St Peter's Church 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.[20]

St Bartholomew's Chapel was restored and enlarged by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 19th century.[21] Nearby were two religious almshouses; St. Bartholomew's Hospital dates back to around 1190 and St Thomas's Hospital which was built in the 14th century and named in honour of Thomas Becket.[22]


Sandwich has two world-class golf courses, Royal St George's which hosts The Open Championship approximately every 10 years,[23] and Prince's Golf Club, which hosted The Open Championship in 1932,[24] and is currently an Open Championship Final Qualifying course. The Open Championship has returned to Sandwich in 2011.


The invention of the sandwich

The town's connection with the snack of the same name is hard to miss the sandwich was not named after the town of Sandwich but is for John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who lived in the 18th century and was said to be its inventor. The legend is that the Earl ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread, and others began to order "the same as Sandwich!" [25] However, the exact circumstances of the invention are still the subject of debate.

Sandwich's biographer, N A M Rodger suggests that the Earl's intense commitment to his work at the Admiralty caused him barely to stir from his desk, so that his "sandwiches" were brought to him as he worked. Sandwich's enemies though put ot about that he was wedded not to his desk but to the gambling tables.

Sandwich Festival

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, illuminsted 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. Full details can be found on the Sandwich Festival website

The fingerpost

Road sign

There is a nearby hamlet to the south called Ham. A fingerpost some miles away in the village of Worth points towards both Ham and Sandwich, thus reading:"Ham - Sandwich." The sign has subsequently been removed due to repeated theft.[26]


  • Newspapers:
    • The Deal and Sandwich Express
    • The East Kent Mercury
    • Dover Extra
    • yoursandwich
  • Radio: KMFM Shepway and White Cliffs Country

Outside links


  1. Major, Alan (1994). Hidden Kent. Countryside Books. ISBN 1853062952. 
  2. Dig uncovers Roman invasion coast - BBC News
  3. Roman invasion beach found in Kent - Archaeologists unearth landing point of legions – only now it's two miles from the coast
  4. National Heritage List 1069601Fisher Gate: Gate Sandwich
  5. 5.0 5.1 National Heritage List 1069655: The Barbican
  6. "Thomas Paine". Sandwich People & History. Open Sandwich. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  7. National Heritage List 1069586: 20 and 22 New Street
  8. National Heritage List 1069643: The Salutation
  9. "Gazen Salts". Breathing Spaces. BBC. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  10. National Heritage List 1069731: The Guildhall
  11. "Sandwich Guildhall". Studies of Sandwich. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  12. National Heritage List 1069656: The Admiral Owen Public House
  13. National Heritage List 1343736: The Crispin Inn
  14. National Heritage List 1069666: Bell Hotel
  15. National Heritage List 1343735: Toll Bridge
  16. 16.0 16.1 West, Jenny (1973). The Windmills of Kent. London: Charles Skilton Ltd.. pp. 68–71. SBN 284-98534-1. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Coles Finch, William (1933). Watermills and Windmills. London: C W Daniel Company. pp. 271–72. 
  18. National Heritage List 1343695: Church of St Clement
  19. National Heritage List 1069541: St Mary's Church
  20. "Church of St Peter, Sandwich". The National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  21. National Heritage List 1343722: St Bartholomew's Chapel
  22. "The ancient hospitals of Sandwich". Open Sandwich. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  23. "Open Championship 2011". Royal St George's Golf Club. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  24. "Open Championship 1932". Princes Golf Club. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  25. Sandwiches, History of Sandwiches
  26. Webshots
The Cinque Ports
Cinque Ports Antient Towns Limbs

Hastings  • New Romney  • Hythe  • Dover  • Sandwich

Rye  • Winchelsea

Lydd  • Folkestone  • Faversham  • Margate  • Deal  • Ramsgate  • Brightlingsea  • Tenterden