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  • Writer's pictureMary Smith

Sandwich - So Much More Than a Funny Name

Boats on the River Stour at Sandwich © msmith

Sandwich is definitely a funny name for a town, but which came first? In fact the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon for 'market town on sandy soil', a hint to just how old Sandwich really is. Centuries later, a certain John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich, named the two pieces of bread and meat he was enjoying after the town he presided over. Don't ask me how the nearby village of Ham (true!) got its name!

Sandwich boasts a wealth of historic architecture. © msmith

One of East Kent's ancient Cinque Ports, Sandwich sits on the River Stour and is steeped in history. Our recent blog on the Viking Coastal Trail talks about the River Wantsum separating the Isle of Thanet from the mainland. Sandwich was situated directly opposite, on the Wantsum Channel, and acted as an important port on the East Kent coast.

13th Century St Peter's Church. © Garry Knight, WikiCommons

A wealth of history is connected to Sandwich, as the impressive architecture spanning many centuries tesitifies. Tudor and Elizabethan buildings remain commonplace along the winding streets. St Peter's Church, a Grade I listed building, is a joy to behold both inside and out and has a fascinating past. A look around the Guildhall Museum is also a must and it currently includes a fantastic opportunity to see the Magna Carta on display!

© msmith

On the outskirts of Sandwich stand the substantial ruins of Richborough Roman fort and amphitheatre, also the landing place of the Roman Invasion of Britain in AD 43 no less. Down on the quay in the middle of town, the Sandwich Medieval Centre hosts regular blacksmithing workshops where they are painstakingly rebuilding a life-size replica medieval boat.

Enjoy a leisurely cruise along the River Stour. © KentOnline

Another way to take in the town is on a river tour. Sandwich River Bus provides regular boat trips up and down the Stour and the Wantsum Channel. Going for a gentle cruise like this gives you the chance unwind and also to observe the wildlife along the way, including the seals from the Pegwell Bay colonies.

A relaxing afternoon can also be spent walking the path of the Old Town Wall foundations. Comprised of The Butts, Ropewalk, Millwall and The Bullwarks, vistors can take in tree-lined vistas of the grass-banked river and countryside beyond. There is plenty of green open space to sit and enjoy a picnic while watching the world go by.

Ducks among the reeds along Rope Walk. © msmith

Just a 15-minute drive from Thanet with central parking facilities, or with regular direct trains a good option too, Sandwich is a great place to visit if you're staying at Broadstairs Apartments. You'll find something for everyone - riverside walks, boats a plenty, ancient architecture, landscaped gardens, nature reserves and wildlife. See Visit Sandwich for more info.

The Crispin Inn on Sandwich Quay. © Visit Sandwich

Sandwich is home to lots of great pubs, cafe's and restaurants catering for all pockets too. Highly thought of is The Crispin Inn, a traditional English public house juxtaposed with a fantastic Caribbean menu for something different! We also recommend The Drill Hall Sandwich. Looking out across the cobbles to the Quay, they serve authentic wood-fired pizza and delicious gelato ice-cream. Have we tempted you yet?

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