Driving Down Country Lanes
hard to believe this is not a one way but a two way lane!
We have now been in Chatham for almost a month and we have seen and done quite a bit in that time. As a result I will break this up into separate blog entries so as to not overwhelm you with history and/or photos. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry we rented a car with another couple sharing a week which worked out very well. We took the car for two full days early on and decided to travel to a few close by places.
The first day we went to the village of Sandwich which is located on the River Stour about an hour away. Sandwich had been a major port with large sailing ships plying its waters, but the river had since silted up and is no longer a port city, but still is visited by smaller pleasure boats. The first mention of the village of Sandwich was 664 AD and the name of the village actually means “sandy place”. It had been one of five Cinque Ports which supplied the Crown with men and ships. This joining of the five major ports gave them some freedoms – one was freedom from tolls and custom duties
and freedom to trade and hold their own judicial courts. Between the 11th
centuries Sandwich reached its pinnacle of importance as a port. The great storm of 1287 however was the beginning of the end as it caused many areas to silt up; it blocked harbors and submerged many towns. Now Sandwich stands 2 miles from the ocean due to these changes.
In 1560 Queen Elizabeth I granted Flemish settlers the right to settle here and as a result the village gained from their skills making a visual impact on many of the buildings here. The tower of St. Peter’s Church collapsed and the Flemish skilled men rebuilt the tower adding their own unique design to it as well as to the vestry. It was noticeable throughout the town that there were many buildings that had architectural designs we had seen in the Netherlands. We took the time to walk through St. Clement’s Church which was Saxon in origin but rebuilt by the Norman’s in the 12th
century. It has been rebuilt over the years but the tower is still an excellent example of Norman construction. This church had a steeple but in 1670 it was removed
after the towers of the two other churches in the village collapsed. Sounds like it was a good precautionary thing to do! The tiles on the floor in the interior date back to the early 1400’s.
Near the river we walked through the toll gate that still stands since the 14th
century and had a sign telling its rates. Cars still drive through this to cross the bridge over the River Stour. We enjoyed a nice pot of tea and our walk around the village before moving on to an English Heritage Site at Reculver which was nearby.
A Roman fort was built at Reculver about 200 AD and was occupied until 407 AD. In the 7th
century a Christian monastery was built within the ruins of the fort. This was very practical as the ruined fort provided much needed stone and brick for building the church. St. Mary’s Church was built and used from 669 to 800 when the Vikings invaded. The Church was used again after the Norman Conquest until 1805 when a decision was made to demolish it. They decided to leave the western towers in order to be a navigational aid for shipping. It
Notice the Herringbone Design
that the building material makes in these buildings
still acts in that capacity today. It was on a beautiful spot on a hill giving a great view of the coast. We had a chance to see a beautiful sunset from this location as well.
It was a very pleasant and relaxing way to spend the day as we also took many country lanes through numerous villages on the way. It is a beautiful area of the country and we are enjoying our chance to explore it more.
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