Hythe in 1836
Hythe is locally in Hythe hundred, in the lathe of Shepway, 65 miles from London. It is called in ancient records Hethe, and in Domesday Hede, from the Saxon word meaning a haven. This town is supposed to owe its origin to the decay of West Hythe and Lympne, or Limne (the Portus Lemanis of the Antonine Itinerary), which are now both inland. It was early a place of importance, being one of the Cinque-Ports, and having once had, according to Leland, a fair abbey and four parish churches. In the reign of Henry IV, the inhabitants of this town experienced such heavy calamities, pestilence, conflagration, and shipwreck, that they contemplated abandoning the place ; but the king by the grant of a liberal charter induced them to remain.
The parish of St. Leonard, Hythe, which coincides with the Cinque-Port, contains 860 acres, and had in 1831 a population of 2,287, of which scarcely any part was agricultural. The town, which is at the foot of a steep hill or cull, about half a mile from the shore, consists chiefly of one long street, parallel to the sea, with some smaller ones branching from it, or parallel to it. The town hall and market-place are in the centre of the town. The church is on the slope of the hill above the town ; it is a cross church, very ancient, with a west tower. Some of the western part of the church is of Norman architecture : the eastern part is early English, of remarkably good design and execution ; this part of the church has bold buttresses, and under it a remarkably fine groined crypt. There are two hospitals, or almshouses, in Hythe, of ancient foundation. There are barracks at the east end of the town, a small theatre, and a public library and reading-room. The market is on Saturday.
The corporation of Hythe, under the Municipal Reform Act, consists of four aldermen or jurats, and twelve councillors. Hythe formerly returned two members to parliament, by the Reform Act it sends only one. The parliamentary borough includes the municipal borough, the Liberty of the town of Folkestone, and the parishes of West Hythe, Saltwood, Cheriton, and Folkestone, and part of that of Newington. These limits include the watering-place of Sandgate. The living of Hythe is a perpetual curacy united with the rectory of Saltwood; their joint annual value is £784 with a glebe-house, they are in the diocese of Canterbury, but exempt from the archdeacon's visitation. There were in 1833 in the parish ten day-schools with 197 children, two day and Sunday national schools with 238 children, and two Sunday-schools with 137 children.
About a mile north of Hythe are the ruins of Saltwood castle ; the outer walls, which are partly remaining, enclose an elliptical area of three acres. These walls were strengthened by several square or circular towers, now much dilapidated. The keep, or gate-house, which was almost entirely rebuilt by Courtenay, archbishop of Canterbury in the time of Richard II, is now occupied as a farm house.