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Sandwich, Kent

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Arms of Sandwich Town Council
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Arms of Sandwich Town Council

Sandwich is an historic town in Kent, south-east England. It was one of the Cinque Ports and still has many original mediaeval buildings.

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History

In the year 1217 Hubert de Burgh King Henry III's justiciar compelled king Louis of France to agree to peace terms. De Burgh had defeated Louis at the naval battle off Sandwich by throwing lime into the faces of the French sailors. Louis gave up his claim to the English Crown and but failed to restore Normandy, as he had sworn.

The Port of Sandwich is no stranger to odd events in English history, and it was in the year 1255 that the first captive Elephant was landed in England - (see: History of elephants in Europe). The prize beast arrived at Sandwich quayside, delivered as a gift to the English monarch Henry III, from the French king, and then curiously taken on foot to the king's zoo at the Tower of London. The journey through Kent is reported to have proceeded without incident, except when a bull in a field adjacent to the roadside took umbrage to the great beast passing and attacked it. In one move the poor animal was thrown by the elephant and killed outright. (Hidden Kent: Alan Major).

Before Sandwich became a Cinque Port, the ancient Saxon town of Stonar, located on the opposite bank of the Wantsum estuary, at the mouth of the river Stour, was already well established and remained a place of considerable importance until it disappeared almost without trace in the 14th century.

Stonar was also sometimes called Lundenwic, indicative of its extensive trade with London - a position contested fiercely by Sandwich which went on to replace Stonar as the major port from about 1365, when Stonar was was overwhelmed by the sea in a great storm. Sandwich adopted the name Lonenwic for a while.

Exactly 20 years after the storm, Stonar was burnt to the ground in a raid by the French. An earlier battle known to have occurred on these shores was fought at Stonar by the Saxon king Edmund Ironside against the forces of Toekill the Dane in 1009, who scored an exceptional victory for the home team.

In 1457, after four years of uneasy peace in England, the king presided over a wasting realm, with feudal barons lording over the population of the north and the west of the realm. The French took advantage of the situation by sending a raiding party to Kent, burning the Cinque Port of Sandwich to the ground.

A force of 4,000 men from Honfleur, under the command of Marshal de Breze came ashore to pillage the town, in the process murdering the mayor, John Drury. It thereafter became an established tradition, which survives to this day, that the Mayor of Sandwich wears a black robe in mourning for this ignoble deed.

The Battle of Sandwich is sometimes said to have been fought in 1460, but although the rebel English raiding party did land here, over 30,000 local supporters are said to have accompanied Warwick and his party to London, offering support to his cause during the Wars of the Roses.

Sandwich was later to gain significantly from the skills brought to the town by many Dutch settlers, who were granted the right to settle by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. These settlers, brought with them techniques of market gardening, and were responsible for growing the first English celery. The Huguenot refugees also brought over Dutch architectural techniques, that are now as much a part of Kent as the thatched cottage. In addition techniques of silk manufacture were imported, enhancing the Kent cloth industry.

Sandwich Today

The local economy has benefited from significant investment by Pfizer, a US pharmaceuticals company, which has built a research & development centre near Sandwich, employing over 3,000 people. Laboratory experiments at the site have aroused negative comment by animal rights activists. Viagra, Pfizer's treatment for erectile dysfunction, was discovered here.

Sandwich has a world-class golf course, Royal St George's which hosts The Open Championship every few years.

There is a bird observatory at Sandwich Bay.

Sandwich and Sandwiches

The town's connection with the snack of the same name is that John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich allegedly invented it; see his entry for further details.

There is another village in Kent called Ham Street, or just Ham. A road sign[1] (http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/tony.auffret/hamsam.jpg) some miles away pointing to both villages, thus:

Ham
Sandwich

has had to be replaced several times because people keep stealing it. (No arrests have been made yet)

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