Brief History of Sandwich
From being a Saxon stronghold first mentioned in AD664 to its role as a Cinque Port, Sandwich is richly woven with history and traditions.
Sandwich is one of the most complete medieval towns in England. It contains the highest number of listed buildings per head of population in the country and was the first town in Britain to have a preservation order placed on the entire town.
The street plan has changed little since the time of Domesday in 1086 and some churches, houses and public buildings date back to the 13th Century.
Situated near the beautiful Kent coast Sandwich is surrounded by a number of picturesque villages and gentle countryside.
Located at the front of the Guildhall the friendly staff can provide a wealth of information for people visiting, and planning to visit Sandwich and the surrounding area.
The staff can:
- Provide a fantastic selection of books, maps, guides and souvenirs.
- Book National Express and provide timetable information.
- Book local event tickets.
- Arrange quality, nationally inspected visitor accommodation.
Open April to October:
Kent CT13 9AH
Tel / Fax:
+44 (0)1304 613565
Other times of the year:
Please Contact the Town Clerk’s Office
For a link to a map of Sandwich and the surrounding area click here.
Maps & Leaflets
The following can be viewed and/or downloaded:
Many more maps and leaflets can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre
Town Trail and Spiritual Trail
Visitors are recommended to follow the trail, starting at the Guildhall and using the map to match numbers with locations. There is an information board at each point on the trail telling its own story. The map can be downloaded as a PDF or collected in Sandwich at several locations
1. Sandwich Guildhall, built in 1579 and open for guided tours by appointment. John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich is said to have invented the modern sandwich in 1762 at the gaming table. He asked for meat to be served between slices of bread to avoid interrupting gameplay.
2. Moat Sole – St Thomas’ Hospital named in honour of St Thomas Becket. In 1392 it accommodated 12 poor persons.
3. The Butts – used in medieval times as an archery practice field – believe to be the site where Henry V’s archers practiced before sailing for their famous victory at Agincourt 1415.
4. Gallows Field – Once the towns place of execution. Felons were hanged and witches were drowned. Last hangings took place in 1790s.
5. Strand Street – Probably contains more half timbered houses than any other street in England.
6. St. Mary’s Church – Built by the Normams on the site of a Saxon nunnery, the church was destroyed during the French raids of 1217 and 1457.
7. Kings Lodging – Dating from 1400 this is probably the finest period house in the town. Henry VIII lodged here, as Elizabeth 1 probably did during her visit in 1572.
8. Sandwich Weavers – A beautiful building formerly used as a home and workshop by 16th century Dutch refugees.
9. St Peter’s Church – The medieval practice of ringing the Curfew bell at 8pm is still carried on from here.
10. St. Peter’s Street – Formerly called Jail Street the medieval gaol buildings can still be seen.
11. The Barbican & Toll Bridge – the tradition of collecting a toll dated back to King Canute who first granted a charter of the Monks of Christchurch in Canterbury to operate a ferry across the river and ended in 1977.
12. The Quay – From here in medieval times, kings and their armies embarked for the wars in France.
13. The Bulwark – Sandwich has a remarkable history of violent raids and invasions. The town was entirely walled in 1385 by order of Richard II.
14. St Clements Church – Saxon in origin Town Mayors were elected here by Common Consent until 1683. Any mayor refusing the honour had his house demolished.
15. King Street – Dutch and Flemish Protestants fleeing Catholic oppression by the Spanish settled here and built and renovated many houses in their distinctive style.
16. Ropewalk – Once used for ships rope-making which required a long, straight stretch for ‘walking out’.
17. St Bartholomew’s – One of the oldest established hostels for travellers and pilgrims, dating back to 1190.
Sandwich is blessed with much fine medieval architecture including some wonderful churches.
St Bart’s Hospital Chapel
Visit this 12th century chapel containing very early memorial effigy of founder of St Bart’s Hospital and an altar style monument to Sir Henry de Sandwich which dates back to 1230. Founded in 1190 as a pilgrim’s hospital, later becoming a residence for the elderly of Sandwich, it now has sixteen houses around the chapel
There are occasional guided tours of the Guildhall booked via the Guildhall.
A tours provider is also available – click here for their web site.
Places to Visit in and by Sandwich
Make sure you have checked out places on the Town Trail above.
Salutation Gardens and Tea rooms. Click here for the ‘secret gardens’ of Sandwich visitor centre situated by the Quay Green, close to the river.
Just a half a mile from the Town is a fascinating piece of rural history – with much more to visit than meets the eye.
Very close to Sandwich Town Centre is our wonderful nature reserve.
Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory is just one mile from the Town Centre.
Richborough Fort is only 1 mile from the Town
Cycling and Walking
The surrounding area is very flat and is ideal for both cyclists and walkers.
A simple walk starts at the Quay by the river, cross the little white bridge and walk to Sandwich Bay – 1.5 miles. Go to the public toilets building on the Quay by the River and a friendly attendant will point the way.
East Kent Health Walks Group meets every Wednesday at 10.30 am in front of the Guildhall – why not join in.
Regular walks start from the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory – contact them through their web site visitors are welcome to join in their Friday afternoon 1.30 pm walks.
Bikes can be hired from Locks Cycles in the town centre. Maps are available.
Betteshanger Country Park is a purpose built cycling and picnic park 2.5 miles from Sandwich.
Sandwich is home to the Open Course Royal St Georges; The Open Qualifiers Princes and Royal Cinque Ports and a very accessible pay and Play at Stonelees. Other courses close by include St Augustines, Walmer & Kingsdown and North Foreland.
Cinque Port Website Links:
Official Confederation of Cinque Ports website: www.cinqueports.org
Brightlingsea – www.cinqueportliberty.co.uk
Dover – www.whitecliffscountry.org.uk
Hastings – www.hastings.gov.uk/home/default.aspx
Hythe – www.hythetowncouncil.gov.uk
New Romney – www.newromneytc.kentparishes.gov.uk
Out and about – Places of interest.
Visits to local Towns are recommended. They include seaside towns:
And of course the famous cathedral town of
With its spectacular Canterbury Cathedral
Dover has some places of interest,
especially the magnificent Dover Castle.