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MARKET TOWNS OF KENT (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Dover in 1836

DOVER, one of the Cinque Ports, a borough and market-town, having separate jurisdiction, in the eastern division of the county of Kent, 16 miles south-east by south from Canterbury and 72 east-south-east from London. Dover situated on the coast, at the opening of a deep valley formed by a depression in the chalk hills, which here present a transverse section to the sea. This depression runs into the interior for several miles, and forms the basin of a small stream.

Dover was called by the Saxons Dwyr, from dwfyrra (a steep place), or from dwr (water), there being a small stream in the valley at the extremity of which Dover stands. By the Romans it was called Dubris, whence Dover.

From its proximity to the continent, Dover has for many years been the usual port of embarkation for passenger going both from and to England. In the reign of Henry VIII the emperor Charles V landed here, and Henry on that occasion contributed a large sum for the erection of a pier, which was subsequently completed in the reign of Elizabeth.

The castle, which is on the northern side of the town, is supposed to have been originally constructed by the Romans. The southern heights of Dover were originally strongly fortified during the late war, and extend in a semicircle as far as the famous Shakespeare’s Cliff, so called from the celebrated scene in ‘King Lear.’

The boundaries of the present borough, in addition to the old borough, include a part of the parish of Buckland and comprise a population of l5,298 persons ; 1,651 were registered after the passing of the Reform Act. The borough sends two members to parliament. It appears from the Municipal Corporation Report to be doubtful whether there are any charters. A court of record is held three times a week. The general sessions are held three times year before the recorder and other justices. There was hundred court, but it has fallen into disuse.

The town consists principally of one street about a mile long, running in the direction of the valley. A theatre and assembly-room were erected in 1790. The town is now considered fashionable watering-place, and possesses every convenience for sea-bathing. Many handsome houses have recently been built for the accommodation of visitors in the season.

The harbour is not very good, but it can accommodate ships of 500 tons, and is principally used for sailing and steam packets to France. It has now for some years been undergoing repairs and improvements, but it does not seem probable that it can ever be made a good port. Some corn is ground in the neighbourhood, and exported to London ; and there are some paper-mills near the town. The market-days are Wednesday and Saturday. An annual fair is held on the 23rd of November.

There are two churches, St. James’s and St. Mary’s the former worth £145, the latter £287 per annum ; as well as a new church, and places of worship for Baptists, Society of Friends, Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics. A charity-school for boys and girls was founded in 1789 ; it has received various donations, and in 1820 a new building, capable of containing 200 boys and 200 girls, was erected. The hospital of St. Mary, afterwards called the Maison Dieu, was founded in the 13th year of the reign of Henry III, by Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent and chief Justice of England.