Town Spotlight: Sandwich
Sandwich may be small, but there is a lot packed into this little gem of a place on the Kent coast. A haven for bird watchers, a magnet for historians and definitely a draw for families, Sandwich is much bigger than it seems.
History in Brief
There has always been some sort of settlement, village, or town in the environs of Sandwich – it’s in an important place with its favourable location on the coast allowing for invading forces to find an opportune place to land. That’s why it was always well fortified too; those invading forces were usually defeated, especially when Henry VIII created his ‘cinque ports’ of which Sandwich is one.
But, well before Henry VIII, Sandwich was already doing duty as a place for kings. Richard the Lionheart landed in Sandwich after returning from the Third Crusade in 1194, and in 1216, Prince Louis of France chose Sandwich as his arrival place when he came to fight in the war against King John, a feud which led to the Battle of Sandwich in 1217.
As time went on, Sandwich become ever more popular, and by the 16th century, it was seen as the only place in England that had fewer native Englishmen than immigrants. This allowed for Sandwich to become famed for its goods and products, which often came from other countries. Sandwich also had a reputation as being an innovative and rather experimental kind of place, particularly when it came to farming. The techniques utilised here were foreign, and they were exciting.
Things to Do
- The Salutation Gardens
The stunning Salutation Gardens were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1912. He took the 3.7 acres that existed and turned it into a series of symmetrical ‘rooms’. Each one is unique and each one is equally beautiful – coming to the Salutation Gardens offers tranquillity and peace to anyone who enters. As well as the gardens, there is a hotel and restaurant, which is the first 20th-century building to ever be granted Grade I status.
- Richborough Roman Fort
Richborough Roman Fort is one of the most important Roman sites in the entire country. This was where the Romans first landed and where many settled in AD 43. It is also where they left from after almost four centuries in AD 410. Part of English Heritage’s network of historical sites, at Richborough you can explore the ancient stone walls and also enjoy the museum. You can even catch a boat from Sandwich itself and arrive in just the same style as the Romans did.
- White Mill Rural Heritage Centre
The White Mill is a perfect example of a smock mill, along with the original wooden machinery that makes the whole thing work. It was restored by millwright, Vincent Pargeter between 1960 and 1961, and it is a fascinating place to visit. As well as the mill itself, where you can see examples of agricultural machinery, you can see the miller’s cottage, other outbuildings and a museum.
- Gazen Salts Nature Reserve
Gazen Salts is open throughout the year for those who enjoy a peaceful, beautiful walk in nature. There are over one-and-a-half miles of paths in 15 acres of woodland and wetland to choose from taking you through wildlife habitats and close to a central lake. Animals that you can spot here include turtle doves, water voles and woodpeckers.
- The George & Dragon
Built in 1446, the George & Dragon is still going strong today thanks to brothers, Mark and Matthew Philpott, who bought the pub and licence in 2008. The George & Dragon has a ‘Cask Marque’, showing that it serves excellent cask ale. Food here is great too and includes dishes such as smoked haddock, egg and spinach gratin; goats cheese and pepper pasta; dressed crab with potato salad; and a variety of handmade baguettes.
When you go to an Italian restaurant, you want authentic, delicious and fairly priced Italian food. When you go to Luigi’s, that’s exactly what you get. Not only that, but it is located right on Sandwich’s quayside, allowing for great food and amazing views at any time of the year. The menu consists of great dishes such as polpette al sugo (juicy beef meatballs with a spicy tomato sauce, garlic, parsley, and Parmesan; rigatoni pollo pancetta (seasoned chicken breast, pancetta and rigatoni in a creamy grana padano cheese sauce); and agnello alla griglia (lamb chops chargrilled served with garlic spinach).
- The Blue Pigeons
Just outside of Sandwich in the pretty little village of Worth is the Blue Pigeon Brasserie. Pub, restaurant and hotel all in one, this is a wonderful place to dine and relax and is a restaurant whose head chef clearly has a passion for good food beautifully presented, which shows in his cooking. As for the restaurant itself, it’s a friendly, comfortable environment to experience this exceptional food. The menu changes with the seasons so that the ingredients are always as fresh as possible. Menu examples include the famous homemade Scotch eggs, Barnsley chop, and seafood linguine.
- The Sandwich Festival // Aug
A celebration of the wonder that is Sandwich happens annually during the aptly named Sandwich Festival. On 27th August this year there will be a special parade commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Sandwich, which is sure to be lots of fun for all the family. The festival is three days of free entertainment and shouldn’t be missed.
- Food Fayre // May
The Sandwich Food Fayre consists of over 50 different stalls showcasing both local and non-local foods from around the world. Try something new and discover what is right on your doorstep. There are plenty of cooking demonstrations and activities to join in with too.
Sandwich Bay is a long and lovely stretch of sandy beach that is as traditional as it gets. Enjoy a day out here with the family where sandcastles and memories will be made.
Did You Know?
The very first captive elephant in Britain arrived at Sandwich when Emperor Claudius brought it over from Rome.