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10 reasons to love Sandwich

PUBLISHED: 11:50 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:50 31 July 2018

The Bell Hotel on the quay (photo: Manu Palomeque)

The Bell Hotel on the quay (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque

The little medieval town of Sandwich has it all: character, history and a great location

1. Living history

One of the original Cinque Ports, for a tiny town Sandwich packs in a lot of historic buildings. From the ruins of Richborough Roman Fort to the 14th-century town wall and its gatehouses and the Sandwich Weavers building, named after the Dutch refugees who set up their weaving business there in the 16th century, Sandwich is bursting with history. Don’t miss The Guildhall, dating from 1579 and now housing the fully refurbished town museum and the ancient manuscripts of the Sandwich Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest.

2. Food and drink

Try Luigi’s Italian, Charlie’s Bistro, Edessa and the Mermaid’s Locker. Stop in for a snack at Goats That Dance, The Beach Hut Café or (of course) The Sandwich Shop, and enjoy a glass of wine at Rosa’s Vinarium. Historic pubs include The George & Dragon, The King’s Arms, The Crispin Inn and The Hop & Huffkin. For a real treat, visit The Salutation Restaurant or The Brasserie on the Bay. Stay at independent country hotel The Blazing Donkey at Ham or The Bell Hotel on the quayside.

The Art Deco Sandwich Empire Theatre (photo: Manu Palomeque)The Art Deco Sandwich Empire Theatre (photo: Manu Palomeque)

3. All aboard

The sea may have receded centuries ago from this once-busy port but the River Stour still provides a link to it. Home to pleasure boats and a marina, the river is best explored from the Sandwich River Bus, which runs from outside The Bell Hotel on the quay. It’s been operating since 1999 and it offers a range of boat trips from short sightseeing rides to wildlife safaris down to the sea.

4. Wild wildlife

The opening of the new Sandwich Wildlife Park is expected later this year. Replacing the Rare Species Conservation Centre which closed in 2015, the park will be a sister site to Wingham Wildlife Park. The new site will be home to animals including clouded leopards, South American maned wolves and ring-tailed lemurs and will also provide overnight accommodation.

Quirky street and shop names are a feature of Sandwich's ancient streets (photo: Manu Palomeque)Quirky street and shop names are a feature of Sandwich's ancient streets (photo: Manu Palomeque)

5. Art Deco cinema

The Sandwich Empire Theatre, unchanged since the 1930s and still boasting its Art Deco neon lighting, is a mix of the old and the new; showing the latest mainstream movies and monthly classics. Note the vintage ticket machine.

6. Great gardens

The 3.7-acre Salutation Gardens, originally designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens but neglected for 25 years were rescued just over a decade ago. Now the Grade I listed Salutation manor house is a luxury boutique hotel, and along with its stunning gardens, also boasts a restaurant, café, shop and plant nursery.

The streets of Sandwich just ooze history (photo: Manu Palomeque)The streets of Sandwich just ooze history (photo: Manu Palomeque)

7. Watch the birdy

Visitors to the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory can find out just why this area attracts so much birdlife. As an accredited bird observatory and registered charity, it is committed to the conservation and recording of the natural environment in the Sandwich Bay area, and offers opportunities for education, training and research. Take a tour of the wildlife reserves, including Restharrow Scrape, an ideal place to watch lapwings and little grebes, linnets and wagtails. The observatory also holds all sorts of talks and events throughout the year.

8. Tee off

There are two world-class golf clubs: Royal St George’s and Prince’s Golf Club. Prince’s was built in 1906 and features accommodation and its own restaurant, the Brasserie on the Bay. Royal St George’s was designed in 1887 and James Bond author Ian Fleming was a member. It featured in Goldfinger, as Royal St Mark’s.

The Guildhall dates from 1579 and now houses the town museum (photo: Manu Palomeque)The Guildhall dates from 1579 and now houses the town museum (photo: Manu Palomeque)

9. Quiet beaches

Sandwich Bay is a long stretch of sand and shingle beach backed by the two golf courses and a private estate. Nearby Pegwell Bay has a sandy part that’s popular with families and the bay is used for water sports. At the southern end it becomes Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve, home to native wildlife and migrating waders and wildfowl.

10. Exciting events

Sandwich Festival (24-27 August) is an extravaganza of free entertainment with a carnival parade, classic cars and live music, while Sandwich Arts Week (15-22 September) is a celebration of theatre, film, music, writing and poetry, held in venues throughout town. Don’t miss the food fayre held each May, ‘Le Weekend’ in June and the Sandwich Folk and Ale Festival held in July.

Sandwich Market at The Guildhall is a popular weekly event (photo: Manu Palomeque)Sandwich Market at The Guildhall is a popular weekly event (photo: Manu Palomeque)

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