A Day Trip to Sandwich & Reculver Towers

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April 11th 2014
Published: May 1st 2014
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Driving Down Country LanesDriving Down Country LanesDriving 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
Pleasure Boats on the River StourPleasure Boats on the River StourPleasure Boats on the River Stour

in the village of Sandwich.
and freedom to trade and hold their own judicial courts. Between the 11th and 13th 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 DesignNotice the Herringbone DesignNotice 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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 41, Displayed: 24


Half Timber ConstructionHalf Timber Construction
Half Timber Construction

seen in the village of Sandwich
A Number of Building MaterialsA Number of Building Materials
A Number of Building Materials

make an interesting pattern in this wall
Whitewash Bricks and StoneWhitewash Bricks and Stone
Whitewash Bricks and Stone

and hanging flower pots make this an attractive place
Tolls to Cross the RiverTolls to Cross the River
Tolls to Cross the River

collected at the toll gate in Sandwich included all means of transportation
This toll bridge still stands This toll bridge still stands
This toll bridge still stands

since the 14th century allowing cars through it free of charge now.
An Impressive Mansion An Impressive Mansion
An Impressive Mansion

as viewed through its open gate
The Trees are in BloomThe Trees are in Bloom
The Trees are in Bloom

as you can see here in Sandwich in early April.
The St. Clements Church The St. Clements Church
The St. Clements Church

has its original Norman tower still standing.
The St. Clement's ChurchThe St. Clement's Church
The St. Clement's Church

has been renovated over the years and has remnants of various periods inside.
A View of the Central Section of the ChurchA View of the Central Section of the Church
A View of the Central Section of the Church

shows the various ages of development with its rounded as well as more pointed arches.
The Medieval Floor Tiles The Medieval Floor Tiles
The Medieval Floor Tiles

from the early 1400's are still full of color
The "older" area of the churchThe "older" area of the church
The "older" area of the church

with its rounded archways
The Wooden CeilingThe Wooden Ceiling
The Wooden Ceiling

shows the hand work done with the beams in fitting the pieces together

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