Spotlight on Sandwich

Spotlight-on-Sandwich

Originally the foremost of the ancient Cinque ports, Sandwich has matured into a lovely compact place to visit, alive with medieval charm

Spotlight on Sandwich

Originally the foremost of the ancient Cinque ports, Sandwich has matured into a lovely compact place to visit, alive with medieval charm  

Sandwich boasts spectacular gardens, amazing old buildings and a fabulous wealth of history - from the influx of resourceful Flemish refugees, who brought prosperity, to the invasion of pillaging French, who liquidated the mayor.

There’s no shortage of things to do, whether it’s watching the boats at The Quay, admiring the wonderful old buildings or simply relaxing in the fine old inns.

Accomodation expert

Recently featured on Channel 4’s Four in a Bed programme The Salutation at Sandwich (01304 619919, CT13 9EW) comprises splendid Grade I-listed luxury accommodation surrounded by acres of beautiful historic, Lutyens and Jekyll-designed gardens.

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Owned and run by Dominic and Stephanie Parker, who live in the main house, accommodation is within three fine properties in the grounds, each featuring luxurious bedrooms, kitchen, dining and living areas. 

“We get excellent feedback about the rooms and cottages, particularly from couples looking for a relaxing romantic weekend away,” says Dominic. “Our customers love the luxurious nature of the accommodation and the attention to detail, what’s more, many of the rooms overlook the glorious Secret Gardens.

“People love the nearby castles and the golf courses such as Royal St George’s, also the Turner Contemporary in nearby Margate. Sandwich is a very peaceful place, also very friendly. One of our favourite places is the George and Dragon Inn, where we often go (see below), and I recommend it.”

Down by the river

James Blackmore, his brother Richard and father David run Highway Marine (01304 613925, CT13 9EU), from Pillory Gate Wharf. Their mother Linda runs Fisherman’s Wharf Apartments (long-term lets only).

The family has been active in the Sandwich business community since the 1970s. They sell both sail and power boats, build and fit-out yachts and sell marine products and chandlery.

“It’s a beautiful and a very quiet river,” says James. “Upstream it winds through miles of deserted countryside, there are three pubs on the riverside at Grove Ferry, Plucks Gutter and Fordwich and plenty of lovely spots to swim or have a picnic.

“At the river’s mouth there’s a colony of 100 seals who can be seen basking in the soft mud at low water. Many of our mooring customers only keep a boat with us as a crash pad to come and spend the weekend in Sandwich.

“This unique medieval town is also perfect for anyone who wants to play golf, go boating, hiking or relax on the beach.”

Richard adds: “Boat owners might like to know that we have about 80 moorings on the Stour, suitable for boats up to 90 ft, and lots of storage space ashore. We’d be happy to either buy your boat, or sell her for you on a brokerage basis with no tie-in.”

A sandwich in Sandwich

According to the owners, the only place to get a ‘proper hand-made sandwich in Sandwich’ is Rose’s Fine Foods (01304 613288, CT13 9BL).

Rose’s is an artisan grocers offering hard-to-find foods and delicacies (cooked meats, cheeses, pies, etc) and they also offer refreshments. Following on a legacy of three generations of the Rose family, the newly launched shop in its lovingly restored authentic Victorian premises keeps to the traditions of uniformed, helpful staff and can best be described as a ‘proper shopping experience.’ 

“Our service combines the politeness of the past with the convenience of the present,” says Jim Marshall. “The atmosphere of the shop draws you in, the smells of freshly ground coffee, the interesting and delicious meats - and Rose’s friendly and personable ambience.

“Sandwich is often called the ‘most complete medieval town in England’ and in warmer weather you can sit outside The Bell Hotel and opposite the No Name Shop to have a meal and a chat. We’ve also got the Empire Cinema and St Mary’s Arts Centre, for local concerts and events. The Crispin and The Admiral Owen have live music and The King’s Arms does a wonderful Sunday lunch.”

Weekend events

11-12 May: Food Fayre on Guildhall Forecourt.

8-9 June: ‘Le Weekend’ – Sandwich goes French! French market, music, dancing, cycling events

12-14 July:  Folk ’n’ Ale festival: musical events plus Morris dancing

10 August:  Sandwich Forties Fayre

23-27 August: Sandwich Festival: free outdoor concerts, classic cars, barbecues, duck race, markets, etc.

Saturday walkabout

Go for a wander

You can look out across the town’s rooftops by ‘walking the walls’ (The Bulwarks, Mill Wall, Ropewalk and The Butts).

Strand Street has the longest row of ancient inhabited timbered houses in England and St Peter’s church has a scenic walled garden and a fine Dutch-style gable.

The Cattlemarket is the town’s main square where markets are held, and here you’ll find the Guildhall and museum.

The Quay is a peaceful stretch on the banks of the Stour, from where you can enjoy magnificent river views.

Nature reserve

Gazen Salts Nature Reserve (CT13 9HN) has a central lake, reed beds and lots of wildlife.  Richborough Roman Fort (CT13 9JW) is where you can see the huge stone wall that marks the site of this fortress, the most symbolically important of all the Roman sites in Britain.

Get refreshed

Some of the best restaurants and pubs include: The Bell Hotel (01304 615308, CT13 9EF), Fishermans Wharf (01304 613636, CT13 9RU), The Crispin Inn (01304 621967, CT13 9EA), The Admiral Owen (01304 617771, CT13 9EB), The King’s Arms (01304 617330, CT13 9HN) and the George and Dragon (01304 613106, CT13 9EJ).

Relaxing Sunday

Milling about

White Mill Rural Heritage Centre (01304 239544, CT13 9JB) was built in 1760 and still has most of the original wooden machinery, now restored. It is surrounded by outbuildings and The Miller’s Cottage, built in the 1830s; there is also a museum. 

Around and about

Nearby are some wonderful old villages, including Woodnesborough, with St Mary’s wooden-towered church and great views and Wroth, which is set within fields and orchards, and has a duck pond plus some excellent period houses.

Birds and butterflies

In addition to great views of avian life, Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust (01304 617341, CT13 9PF) has butterflies, dragonflies, rare orchids and a shop.

Getting there

Sandwich is around two miles from the east cost of Kent, below the Isle of Thanet, situated between Ramsgate and Deal. Reach it via the A256, accessed from Dover to the south, or Canterbury to the west (via A257). Canterbury links to the M25 by way of the A2, M2 and M20. There’s a station and good bus and coach links.

Satnav postcode: CT13 9AH

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