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MARKET TOWNS OF KENT (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Sandwich in 1841

SANDWICH, a municipal and parliamentary borough, in the county of Kent, about 67½ miles from the General Post-office, London, through Rochester and Canterbury.

It was early a place of importance, and an original member of the Cinque Ports. It probably arose out of the decay of the Roman Ritupae. The name Sondwic occurs as early as A.D. 665. The Danes were defeated here, A.D. 851 or 852, by Athelstan, son of Ethelwulf. They were at Sandwich again in A.D. 993 or 994 and in A.D. 1006 or 1007 ; the Anglo-Saxon fleet was at Sandwich in A.D. 1008, and the Danish fleet in A.D. 1013 and 1014. Canute landed here in A.D. 1016.

It is again mentioned as a place of rendezvous for naval armaments in the time of Edward the Confessor, in whose reign the town had 307 inhabited houses. At the time of the Domesday Survey there were 383. At this time the port belonged to the archbishop of Canterbury and the monks of Christchurch, Canterbury. Part of the rent received by the archbishop consisted of 40,000 herrings for the monks’ food.

In the reigns of Edward I and III the archbishop and monks gave up Sandwich to the crown, in exchange for lands granted elsewhere. In the time of Henry III the town was burnt by the French. In the French wars of Edward III, it is mentioned as a place of rendezvous or of landing. In the reign of Henry VI the French took and plundered the town three times. To prevent similar disasters, Edward IV renewed the fortifications ; and in following reigns attempts were proposed or made to preserve or improve the harbour, which was beginning to decay from the accumulation of sand. This choking up of the harbour led to the decline of the town, which was however revived by the settlement of the Flemish refugees, in the reign of Elizabeth, and the introduction by them of the manufacture of baize and other woollens. The same emigrants cultivated the lands round the town for vegetables, flax, and canary seed.

The town stands in the marsh lands which border on the Isle of Thanet, on the south side of the Stour, near its mouth in Pegwel Bay. It is irregularly and inconveniently laid out : the streets and lanes are paved and lighted, but they are very narrow. The ancient municipal limits comprehend the three parishes of St. Mary, St. Peter, and St. Clement and the extra-parochial district of St. Bartholomew, and the town is partly in each. The area comprehended in these limits is 1,960 acres; the population, in 1831, was as follows :- St. Mary’s parish, 952; St. Peter’s, 1,220; St. Clement’s, 912; district of St. Bartholomew, 52: total. 3,136.

The parishes of Deal and Walmer, adjacent to Sandwich, and the villages of Ramsgate and Sarr, in the Isle of Thanet, are in the jurisdiction of the Cinque Port of Sandwich ; in the parish of Deal the corporation of Sandwich has concurrent jurisdiction with that of Deal, but this jurisdiction is only partially exercised. A part of the town wall is standing, and one of the gates, Fishergate, is on the north side of the town, towards the bridge, which is a stone structure, with a swing-bridge in the middle, to admit the passage of vessels.

St. Clement’s church is a massive building, consisting of a nave and two aisles, a chancel, and a tower rising above the centre of the church. This tower it of Norman architecture, supported by four semicircular arches with massive piers, and is by far the most ancient part of the edifice : it is built of Caen stone. The rest of the building, which is of later date, is built of flint boulders from the shore, sandstone, and Caen stone, probably from the ruins of the more ancient Norman church. There are an ancient octagonal font and some wooden stalls.

St. Peter’s church consisted originally of a nave, with two aisles and a chancel, but the fall of the steeple, in A.D. 1661, demolished the south aisle, which has never been rebuilt. The church appears to have been built of Caen stone, well squared and neatly joined ; some portions built in this way still remain, but the remainder is built of fragments of the older structure, mixed with sandstone, Kentish rag, and flints from the shore ; the upper part of the tower is of brick.

St. Mary’s has a nave, with north aisle and a chancel : it was rebuilt after the greater part of the church had been beaten down by the fall of the steeple, A.D. 1667, but includes some parts of the more ancient structure. The steeple was built A.D. 1718, upon the south porch, and is of brick, with the upper part of wood.

On the south side of the town is the hospital of St. Bartholomew, a charitable foundation of great antiquity. The chapel is a small neat building, of ancient date. The Guildhall is of the date of Elizabeth ; the gaol, which is clean, airy and well-arranged, was built about ten years since. The Wesleyans and Independents have each a place of worship. There are a free grammar school, founded in the time of Elizabeth, and some almshouses.

The business of the place consists chiefly in tanning leather and in sorting wool. Only small vessels can come up to the town. Some timber and iron are brought from the north of Europe ; and corn, malt, flour, seeds, hops, fruit, and wool are shipped, chiefly coastwise. The market-days are Wednesday and Saturday ; the latter is a large corn-market, and there is a large cattle-market once a fortnight. There is a yearly fair.

The corporation, under the Municipal Reform Act, consists of four aldermen and twelve councillors. The municipal boundaries were not altered ; and the borough was not to have a commission of the peace except on petition and grant. Sandwich returned two members to parliament from the forty-second year of Edward III. By the Boundary Act the parishes of Deal and Walmer were, for parliamentary purposes, added to it. The population of the parliamentary borough, thus enlarged, was, in 1831, 12,183; the number of voters on the register, in 1834-5, was 934; in 1835-6, 841, beside those in Walmer, who were not included in the last return.

The living of St. Peter's is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of £144, with a glebe-house ; those of St. Clement and St. Mary are vicarages, of the clear yearly value of £310 and £117 respectively ; there is a glebe-house to St. Mary. All are in the diocese and archdeaconry of Canterbury.

There were in the three parishes, in 1833, two infant or dame schools, with 14 boys and 18 girls ; one boarding-school, with 21 girls ; a national school, with 90 boys and 65 girls, supported partly by endowment and subscription, partly by the payments of the children ; and eight other day-schools, with 134 boys and 112 girls. There was an endowment for a grammar-school, but there were no children in it. There were three Sunday-schools, with 75 boys and 112 girls.