Historic Cinque Port Sandwich is one of Kent’s most beautiful towns brimming with old medieval and Georgian buildings and boasting a beautiful quayside along the River Stour from which in Medieval times kings would head off with their armies to wars in France. The town is famously linked to John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich who invented the ‘sandwich’ in 1762 when he requested some meat be placed between slices of bread to avoid disturbing his gambling game!
The central Guildhall Museum, formerly an old court room, is a good place to start exploring before heading off on the town’s self-guided heritage trail which takes in four historic churches, medieval gaol buildings and the many half timbered houses along Strand Street. A regular river bus service along the River Stour runs from Sandwich to Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre (English Heritage) just to the North. The site of the Romans’ first invasion of Britain is thought to have been near Richborough.
Things to do & see
Sandwich has recently been declared the ‘most complete medieval town in England’. Museums and historic sites will easily fill a weekend. The Guildhall Museum, with parts dating from 1579, reveals the story of the town and contains numerous displays on key themes in this town’s colourful history from early medieval times including its time as a mighty medieval Cinque Port. Sandwich Tourist Information Centre is also located within The Guildhall.
Combine your visit with one of the year round events and festivals, many of which are centred around the Guildhall Forecourt, including a Medieval Fayre in June, a Folk & Ale Festival in mid July and the Sandwich Festival across August Bank Holiday.
Explore the Lutyens & Jekyll designed Salutation ‘Secret Gardens’, one of their finest spread across three and a half acres. The gardens are free to enter from December to February and feature a tearoom and accommodation onsite.
A beautiful smock windmill, White Mill, is also here in Sandwich. Dating from 1760, the mill still features much of its original wooden machinery and adjacent outbuildings including a Miller’s Cottage dating from the 1830s which houses a museum.
Nature reserves surround the town including the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust Field Centre near the Bay’s golf courses which offers regular walks and courses. The man-made Gazen Salts Nature Reserve is situated just off Strand Street.
Golf courses in the Sandwich area are world class and well known to keen golfers. Royal St George’s is an 18 hole championship golf course located 2 miles from Sandwich centre. Visitors are assured of a warm welcome at this coastal course which has hosted Opens, PGA and Amateur Championships, and both the Walker and Curtis Cups.
Prince’s Golf Club, also about 2 miles from Sandwich centre, is a 27 hole championship links with courses featuring The ‘Shore’, ‘Dunes’ and ‘Himalayas’. All three start and finish at the clubhouse. Outstanding Golf Breaks with accommodating, dining and rounds of golf inclusive are available here.
Trains from London’s Charing Cross station run to Sandwich Station every hour making it easy to leave the car behind and arrive by train. By road you can take either the M20 or the M2. Many opt for the M2 avoiding busy Dover, and continue round the coast via the A299 to Sandwich.
Buses run regularly from Canterbury to Sandwich – ideal if you are travelling to Canterbury first by National Express Coach. Nearby Kent International Airport at Manston offers a gateway in by air from some European destinations including Amsterdam. Gatwick is second closest, 79 miles away. Dover Port and the Channel Tunnel link at Folkestone are within an easy drive.
Where to stay
Sandwich has a sumptuous selection of B&B, hotel and cottage retreats in and around the historic centre and in several idyllic surrounding villages such as Ash village. Many are award-winning and/ or Grade Listed blending period features with luxurious modern comforts and the finest in-house dining experiences. Some also have close links with local championship golf courses – perfect for golf breaks.
Traditional 16th century Inns with rooms serving fine fare and real ales are also available in the area or opt for flexible self-catering accommodation. Multi award-winning 18th century farmhouses and Gold Award period houses with landscaped gardens are amongst the accommodation choice around this ancient medieval Cinque Port. Affordable quality caravan parks with holiday homes and touring space are also in the area. Find your perfect retreat in Sandwich online now – the town is perfect for that special romantic break.