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MARKET TOWNS OF KENT (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Folkestone in 1836

Folkestone is locally in the hundred of Folkestone in Shepway lathe, 70 miles from London, but has separate jurisdiction, being a member of the Cinque-Port of Dover. It was early a place of some importance: the Romans had a tower here on a high hill, of the earth-works or entrenchments of which there are yet some remains. By the Saxons it was called Folcestane ; in Domesday, Fulchestan. There was a monastery, which had been destroyed by the Danes during or before the time of Athelstan. There was also a castle built by the Saxon kings of Kent, and rebuilt by the Normans, which has been in later times nearly all destroyed, with the cliff on which it stood, by the encroachments of the sea. All that remains is a small part of the wall near the church.

The parish of Folkestone comprehends in all 4,360 acres, of which 680 are in the separate jurisdiction of the town ; the population in 1831 consisted of 4,296 persons, of whom 3,638 were in the town. Folkestone is situated on the shore of the English Channel, partly in a hollow between two cliffs, and partly on the west cliff. The streets are narrow steep, and indifferently paved. The harbour, owing to the accumulation of shingle, is not capable of affording anchorage to many vessels. Many boats belong to it, which are engaged in the mackerel and herring fisheries.

The church, which stands at the west end of the town, is a cross-church of early English character, having a tower in the centre supported by strong piers. The western end was partly blown down by a hurricane in December, 1705, and when rebuilt the dimensions were contracted. There are three dissenting places of worship. There was a Benedictine priory at Folkestone, originally alien, but afterwards made denizen. A gateway in the wall and some part of the foundations are all that remain of this building.

The trade of the town is dull : fishing and smuggling are both on the decline. The market is on Thursday, and there is one yearly fair. The council under the Municipal Reform Act consists of four aldermen or jurats and twelve councillors The market-house and the guildhall have been lately rebuilt.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese and archdeaconry of Canterbury, of the clear yearly value of £185. There were, in 1833, one infant-school, with 60 children ; twelve dame-schools, with 251 scholars ; six day or boarding and day schools, with 242 children ; and four Sunday-schools, with 491 children.

Dr. William Harvey was born at Folkestone. Folkestone was by the Reform Act made part of the parliamentary borough of Hythe.

The village of Sandgate, which is partly in Folkestone parish, is a place of some resort as a bathing-place. There is a castle at Sandgate, built by Henry VIII, probably on the site of a more ancient one.