Click on the questions to see or hide the extended answers to selected questions.
Sandwich Coat of Arms and the Cinque Ports
Three Lions of England with three half boats, is the Coat of Arms of the five Cinque Ports. ( Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, New Romney and Hastings). Only Sandwich has silver coloured boats.
In 1189 a Royal Charter under Henry II, confirmed that the Sandwich (and the other Cinque Ports) should maintain ships ready for the Crown in case of need (war). The chief ‘obligation’ was to provide 57 ships and men for 15 days service to the King annually. (each of the ports fulfilling a portion of this). The Charter also provided ‘privilege’. The town was exempt from certain taxes and had the right to hold court for those who, ‘shed blood and/or were attempting to escape justice’. The Charter therefore gave the town a degree of self-government, legal jurisdiction and financial advantage.
Under Edward I (1239-1307), additional privileges included permission to bring goods into the country without paying taxes, tolls and custom duties.
The Cinque Ports are regarded as the ‘cradle’ of the Royal Navy.
Sandwich…like the other ports …were infamous for smuggling!!
Today the ports are ‘managed’ by the Confederation of the Cinque Ports, and are wholly ceremonial.
Fire Signs or Fire marks
Decorative crest bearing eagles, clasped hands and shining suns were once signs of membership in a special club. They showed that the building to which it was affixed was insured against fire and that if the building caught fire a private fire brigade would come to attempt to put it out. Now, long after their heyday, these plaques, known as ‘fire marks’ have become collector’s items.
After the Great Fire of London in September,1666, which damaged huge swathes of the historic city, the need for a more organised response to fires became tragically apparent. This led to the creation of the first property insurance policies issued by the “Fire Office”. This was a private insurance company. At the beginning it provided money for the restoration or reconstruction of buildings damaged by fire. Not long after this was established, a number of other insurance companies began to appear.
According to the Museum of London, one in every ten houses in London was insured by 1690. Gradually, these companies realised it was cheaper to prevent and fight fires than simply to pay for the cost of reconstruction, and that’s when the fire marks came in. They began to establish their own in-house fire brigades, tasked to protect buildings covered by a policy. Sometimes another brigade could claim the cost of putting out a fire while they could also leave the building to burn down.
The practice soon spread beyond London. By the end of the 18th Century they had reached America.
Atlas Obscura A Short History of Fire Marks, the World’s hottest insurance-related antiques
The Sandwich Delf Stream
The Delf (means ditch or somewhere dug-‘delve’) is first referred to in the early 12th Century. It may have been constructed by and for the monks of Christchurch Priory in Canterbury.
The source is from a group of springs about 5km from Sandwich near Lydden Valley and Hacklinge marshes.
William Boys described it thus: ‘supplies of water for Sandwich are from the ‘haven’ (River Stour) and the Delf. This is an artificial canal raised above the level of the ground through which it runs. It was made in the time of Edward I for the purpose of furnishing the inhabitants of Sandwich with water’. Over time local mining etc has changed its flow.
Over the centuries, concerns increased about diminished quantity and the polluted quality of the water. By the 19th Century the population had increased and the town was a poor one. In 1823, Cobbett said Sandwich was ‘as villainous a hole as one could wish to see’ !
In 1848, the first Public Health Act required authorities to establish a Local Board of Public Health. Part of its responsibility was to ensure the ‘proper’ supply of water. Public Health requirements increased including the appointment of a Medical Officer of Health. Sandwich appointed its first MOH in 1878. However the Sandwich Council persistently refused to take notice of the MOH’s reported concerns about the safely of the town’s water supply.
It was the death in 1882 of Councillor Mayor William Bradley from typhoid, that spurred the Council into action. The supply of reliable/clean water had become critical, but it was not until 1894 that finally a new waterworks was opened. Today, Sandwich benefits from an excellent supply of water from an aquifer at Woodnesborough.
History of Sandwich by William Boys 1792
The Sandwich Delf by Dr Stephen Fuller 2015
Archaeologica Cantiana 2015: Volume 136 by Michael Vaile.
An eagle lectern is a lectern in the shape of an eagle on whose outstretched wings the Bible rests.They are most common in Anglican churches and cathedrals, but their use predates the reformation, and is also found in Catholic churches.
The symbolism of the eagle derived from the belief that the bird was capable of staring into the sun and that Christians similarly were able to gaze unflinchingly at the revelation of the divine word. Alternatively, the eagle was believed to be the bird that flew highest in the sky and was therefore closest to heaven, and symbolised the carrying of the word of God to the four corners of the world.
The eagle is the symbol used to depict John the Apostle, whose writing is said to most clearly witness the light and divinity of Christ. In art, John, as the presumed author of the Gospel, is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height to which he rose in the first chapter of his gospel. Traditionally each of the four gospels represent a different aspect of Jesus: the Messiah, the servant, the man, and God; believed to be illustrated in Revelation 4:7. John’s gospel, as the one most occupied with Jesus’s divinity, is represented by the eagle and is as it is believed to be directly addressed to the church, has a special significance in Christian art. The eagle also came to represent the inspiration of the gospels.
The tradition of using eagle-shaped lecterns predates the Reformation. Medieval examples survive in a number of English churches, including the church of St Margaret in Kings Lynn and the parish church in Ottery St Mary. The Dunkeld Lectern is another notable Medieval eagle lectern.
Taylor, Richard (2003). How to Read a Church: A Guide to Images, Symbols and Meaning and Cathedrals. London: Rider & Co. ISBN 1-84413-053-3.
Delderfield, Eric R. (1966). A Guide to Church Furniture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles.
Ferguson, George (1966). Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. New York: Oxford University Press.
St Mary’s Church, Sandwich
Lancet windows, north wall
The stained glass in the four eastern north aisle lancet windows was a gift of the Raggett family, who lived at Manwood Court, Sandwich from 1913-1932. They were made by William Morris & Co in the 1930s, shortly before the closure of the company in 1940. The design is reminiscent of the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement despite being commissioned long after the death of William Morris himself in 1896.
The windows commemorate the life of George Francis Raggett, Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Mayor of Dover in 1906, Justice of the Peace and Diocesan Reader for the diocese of Canterbury. Perhaps the subjects were chosen to reflect his exemplary character. They are from west to east:
St Martin of Tours (representing kindness)
St Martin was born in Hungary in 316 AD. At the age of 15 he was a soldier in the Roman army, deployed in Gaul. He was said to have come across a scantily clad beggar outside the gates of Amiens and impulsively cut his cloak in half and gave half to the beggar. That night he had a dream in which he saw Jesus wearing the half cloak. He was baptised a Christian at the age of 18.
St George and the Dragon (chivalry and patriotism)
There are several versions of the origin of St George. That depicted here most likely relates to the legend brought back from the holy land with the crusaders. In a lake at Silene, a town in Libya, lived a plague bearing dragon who preyed on the local population. They appeased the dragon by providing him with 2 sheep a day until the sheep ran out. From then on, a child was provided each day, decided by lottery. One day the King’s daughter was chosen and taken to the dragon. At this point St George happened to pass by. He fortified himself with the sign of the cross and killed the dragon. The whole population became Christian as a result.
St Michael the Archangel (against evil)
St Michael is seen as an archangel in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He is a protector of the Christian Church, always depicted with a sword. In the New Testament, the book of Revelation describes a war in heaven in which Archangel Michael defeats Satan. Satan was thrown to earth “where he wanders through the world for the ruin of souls”.
St Nicholas (generosity)
In the 4th Century AD St Nicholas was bishop of Myra, now the small town of Demre in modern day Turkey. He had a reputation for secret gift giving, placing gold coins in shoes left outside his door. Famously, a poor man had 3 daughters who could not afford dowries for them. St Nicholas threw 3 purses of gold through their open window one night. This became an inspiration for Christmas stockings.
Information provided by Julian Stowell
Also referenced in:
Churches Conservation Trust Guide by Roy Tricker
The Kings Lodging House and Jail (Gaol) Door in Strand Street.
The house is one of the finest Medieval houses in the town. It is said that both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I both stayed there.
It is believed that the door came from the town gaol which was in St Peters Street.
The gaol is now converted into 3 cottages and is privately owned.
Shell Fossils. These fossils are actually not local to the area and most probably came from a ship’s balast from the North East.
(Sandwich Society, Volume 2, Number 17, pp23)
This architectural technique is called “jettying”, a prominent architectural characteristic during Medieval times, and especially of England’s Tudor Era (1485-1603).
There are a number of advantages gained from this type of design. It increased the floorspace of upper floors, making the most of available land, as well as providing some cover from the elements next to the building. One would also pay less tax, as one only pays for the area covered by the ground floor.
The Weavers House in Strand Street.
In the 15th Century the house may have been an inn. Note the front door. The right half is all that remains of a large archway entrance leading to a courtyard used for horse and carriages.
The subsequent history of the house is uncertain until the 19th Century. The house was modernised and became a centre of a modern weaving enterprise. The sign was created then. It is now a private house.
The history of weaving in Sandwich is largely due to Dutch and French (Huguenot) immigrants who settled in the town. They brought many skills and trades including farming, market gardening (they introduced celery to England), building, water management and especially weaving.
There were several ‘waves’ of these persecuted Protestants, who sought refuge across the world in the 16th and 17thCentury’s. Many settled in Sandwich
1560: Walloons (Belgium) and Flemish protestants suffered under Spanish Catholic rule and fled. Elizabeth I granted the refugees the right to settle in England. In the 16th Century, Sandwich housed more ‘strangers’ than native Englishmen. It is estimated that 2,400 Flemish and 400 Walloons lived in Sandwich.
1572: 10,000 French Huguenots were killed at the St Bartholomew Day Massacre. Many of the survivors fled France.
1680: following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV, more French protestants left the country. (The 1598 Edict had given rights and protection to the Calvinist Protestants)
1709: the Palatine protestants from the middle Rhine (now Germany) were persecuted and fled from the French Catholic landlords etc.
The Fisher Gate dates from 1384 and was one of five gates in the walled town of Sandwich. It was built by Richard II as part of the town’s defences, which encircled it with a rampart and external ditch.
The Fisher Gate was the main gateway from the town to the quay. The town’s merchants walked through the gate to conduct business. The quay would have been lined with ships and busy with tradesmen. These included coopers (who made barrels for wine, beer, spices and salted fish), pack horses carrying Kentish wool etc. Imported goods included wine from France, fruit from across Europe, and timber from the Baltic.
To protect the town trade, the Fisher Gate had a portcullis which could be lowered to seal off the street behind. Next to the gate is a building called The Keep, where one end of a chain across the River Stour was located. It was positioned to obstruct any ships wanting to attack the town.
The lower part of the Fisher Gate is 14th Century, and is three stories high, the top being added in 1578..
British Listed Buildings.
Ancient Monuments UK.