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Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich is a historic and one of the most well preserved medieval towns in England. Located in Kent, the town is within easy reach of popular larger towns like Canterbury, Dover, and Ramsgate. At one time Sandwich was a major port, one of the five ports of the Confederation of Cinque Ports. Due to the disappearance of the channel that connected it to the sea, it ceased being a port sometime in the 16th century. The town today is a tourist attraction with visitors coming to see the many medieval, half-timbered buildings that have been well preserved.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

In addition to the medieval connection, the town is also popular for giving its name to the food item, sandwich. According to a leaflet that I picked up from the Tourist Information Centre in Sandwich,

John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, invented the 'sandwich' in 1762 at a gambling table when he asked for meat to be served between slices of bread to avoid interruptions to his game.

Historic Town Trail


The best way to discover the town is by following the historic town trail (a somewhat circular walk) that will take you around the narrow streets of the town, past all the important medieval buildings and structures. There are guided tours available with local tour guides who also organise tours for larger groups or families. Alternately you can pick up the Historic Town Trail Map from the Tourist Information Centre (or download it before your visit) and do it on your own like we did. It gave us the flexibility to see the sights at our own pace, stopping at some places for longer and taking photos without being hurried.

Some of the key buildings on the historic trail are listed below:

Guildhall and Guildhall Museum


The Guildhall was built in 1579 and the building today houses administrative offices, the tourist information centre, and the Guildhall Museum. Guided tours of the Guildhall are available (by prior appointment) priced at £3 per person. Admission to the museum is free. The museum offers an insight into the ancient town by means of a number of exhibits ranging from relics and coins to books and insignia.

Guildhall and Guildhall Museum in Sandwich

Guildhall and Guildhall Museum in Sandwich

Guildhall and Guildhall Museum in Sandwich

The Moat Sole


You will spot a number of old and listed buildings on this stretch of road.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

The Butts and the Ropewalk


Both of these are sections of the old town boundary which offer an unusual public walk around the historic town. According to the leaflet, the Butts was used in medieval times as an archery practice field and is also believed to be the site where Henry V's bowmen practiced their archery before sailing off to the Battle of Agincourt.

The Ropewalk was the place where ropes for ships were made in ancient times. As mentioned earlier on, Sandwich was once a thriving port and a large number of ships sailed to and from the town. This section of the historic town trail remembers the maritime history of the town.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Strand Street


The most beautiful street in Sandwich which I think had more half-timbered buildings than any other street I have seen. This was a lovely section of the historic trail.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

There are 4 historic churches in the town of which three feature in the historic town trail.

St Clement's Church


Saxon in origin, this was formerly the election place of the Mayors of Sandwich.

St Mary's Church


This church, located near Strand Street, has had a very stormy history with it being damaged many times by external attacks. The earthquake of 1578 also caused a lot of damage to the church. Today it contains some interesting relics of the past and the place is also used for occasional services.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

St. Peter's Church


Standing on the site of an early Saxon church, this church was believed to have been destroyed in 1216 during the French attack. it was then rebuilt completely by the Carmelite monks. Even today the medieval practice of ringing the Curfew bell is carried on here nightly (at 8pm).

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

The Sandwich Weavers


A beautiful half-timbered building (located in Strand Street) which was used as a home and workshop by the Dutch refugees in the 16th century.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

St Peters Street


Called as Jail Street in the years gone by, this is where you will find the medieval buildings where people convicted of crimes were confined.


(Above) The Corner House to the right of which is the St Peters Street.

The Barbican and the Toll Bridge


This is one of the main gates to the historic town and in the years gone by it used to be called David's Gate. Beyond the gate is the toll bridge.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

King Street


On this street, you will find many houses and buildings in the Dutch style.

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Other important stops on the Historic Town Trail include the Gallows field (ancient place of execution), Kings Lodgings (Henry VIII has appeared to have stayed here), the Bulwark and St Bartholomew's (one of the oldest hotels in the town dating back to 1190s).

All in all, it is a very informative and interesting tour of the historic town. You will be amazed by the fine old buildings and how beautifully they have been maintained. I would certainly recommend it to those visiting Sandwich.

If you liked this historic trial, you might also enjoy the Maritime Heritage Trail in Harwich.

Some more beautiful buildings from the historic town of Sandwich (below).

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

Sandwich Historic Town Trail

If you plan to stay in Sandwich, there a number of options like B&Bs, self-catering properties, inns and hotels in the town. Or if you are staying in one of the nearby towns, you can certainly plan a day trip to Sandwich. Our base to explore Kent was Goodnestone and we stayed at Bonnington Cottage, a beautiful, timber jettied building that I would recommend without any hesitation.

2 comments:

  1. I never knew of Sandwich town in England before reading your post. I love such quiet historic towns and would love to stroll around in this peaceful place. I loved that Dutch styled King's Street. Nice cute houses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is one of the most well preserved medieval towns in England, so definitely worth a visit. I liked the narrow streets and the beautiful houses there; it kind of transports you back in time.

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