Spotlight on: Sandwich
PUBLISHED: 18:24 18 July 2015 | UPDATED: 08:16 20 July 2015
This tiny gem on the Kent coast has medieval buildings, Roman ruins and wild beaches right on its doorstep
1 Magna Carta
The rediscovery earlier this year of the Sandwich Magna Carta couldn’t have had better timing. With celebrations across Kent to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of this great charter, Sandwich joins towns including Faversham and Rochester as one of the stops for the Magna Carta Rediscovered touring exhibition. As well as Faversham’s copy of the Magna Carta and interactive displays which explain the importance of this medieval agreement, it will also display the town’s very own piece of Magna Carta history. The exhibition will be open 24 September-6 October at the Jury Room in the Guildhall.
2 A secret garden
Encircled by the old town walls is one of the finest gardens in Kent. The grounds of fabulous Grade I listed manor house, The Salutation, they had been neglected for 25 years until current owners Stephanie and Dominic Parker, ‘the posh couple from Gogglebox’, transformed the house into upmarket B&B accommodation and restored the ornamental gardens to their former glory. The Secret Gardens of Sandwich (CT13 9EW) are a peaceful oasis with a lake, an oak walk, tropical borders and a lovely tea room, gift shop and plant nursery. www.the-secretgardens.co.uk.
3 Have a bite to eat
With the continent a short hop away, Sandwich takes a lot of inspiration from France, especially when it comes to food. Try No Name Shop (01304 612626, CT13 9AJ), which sells French charcuterie, cheeses, freshly baked bread and pastries and has a popular daytime bistro upstairs. And of course you must visit The Sandwich Shop, in the Cattle Market (01304 611619, CT13 9AP) to enjoy a fine example of the snack reputedly invented by the 4th Earl of Sandwich. There is also the Elizavet Greek restaurant (01304 619899, CT13 9EN), Luigi’s Italian (01304 615297, CT13 9EN) or the fabulous Bell Hotel (01304 613388, CT13 9EF) right on the quay. Good pubs include The Crispin Inn (01304 621967, CT13 9EA) and the Hop and Huffkin (01304 448560, CT13 9AB).
4 down the river
All aboard the Sandwich River Bus based on the quay (CT13 9EN, 07958 376183) for either a relaxed river tour to Richborough Roman Fort, a wildlife and seal-spotting expedition or a mini cruise along the town’s boundary. Captain Colin has run cruises on the River Stour since 1999 and he’s also the Sandwich harbour master, so he really knows his stuff. The seal-spotting trips are particularly popular and they have been lucky enough to see them on every trip for the past 10 years.
5 ancient buildings
With its original medieval buildings, this Cinque Port is a treat to stroll around. Look out for several listed pubs, churches, almshouses and gates in the old town walls. Fisher Gate on the quay dates from 1384 and is scheduled as an ancient monument and the nearby Barbican, the town’s most recognisable landmark, was built in the late 14th century. Dominating the town square, the Guildhall was built in 1579, although it has been altered and extended since. Learn more at Sandwich Guildhall Museum (CT13 9AH) and don’t miss the wonderful Elizabethan court room right next to the exhibition.
6 watch the birdie When it comes to bird spotting, it doesn’t get much better than this part of Kent. Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve (CT12 5JB), where the estuary of the Stour runs into the sea, is a key site for waders and waterfowl including oystercatchers, egrets and ringed plovers. Nearby is Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory and Field Centre (CT13 9PF), one of the UK’s foremost ringing stations.
7 Stroll on the beach
The beach at Sandwich Bay (CT13 9QB) is long, wild and gloriously quiet. Popular with dog walkers, occasionally visited by kite and wind surfers, at times it can feel like your own private beach. The main route to access it passes through a private estate and you do have to pay £7 at a toll, but it’s well worth it. Much of it is shingle and pebble, but there are large sand flats to the north – if you don’t mind passing the odd nudist at that end.
8a Roman past
Richborough Roman Fort (CT13 9JW), founded by the Romans after they conquered Britain in AD 43, was originally a storage depot and the main point of entry for the Roman army coming to the country. It later grew into a settlement and the shape of its amphitheatre can still be seen. Excavation has brought to light foundations of many Roman buildings and numerous objects which can be seen in the on-site museum.
9 GO CLUBBING
There are two world-class golf courses in Sandwich, Royal St Georges (CT13 9PB) and Prince’s Golf Club (CT13 9QB). Both are championship links courses and both have been host to the British Open. Although membership clubs, paying guests are allowed to play and enjoy the facilities too. Check the websites for green fees.
10 Sandwich Festival
The Sandwich Festival brings the August Bank Holiday weekend to life with its annual combination of indoor and outdoor events. This year will see street stalls, an Italian food market, street music and firm favourites like the duck race, barn dance and classic car show. Local attractions including Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory and the White Mill Heritage Centre also celebrate with open days. The festival runs 27 to 31 August, then from 19-26 September, Arts Week 2015 features an an exhibition in St Peter’s Church with an arts trail at venues around the town. w