Sandwich is one of the original five Cinque Ports that grew rich by providing ships for the monarch before the establishment of a regular navy. It is hard to believe that, in its heyday, Sandwich was the most important port on the South Coast. It is now 2 miles from the coast but in 1573 Queen Elizabeth was still able to review her Navy from Sandwich.
Over the centuries, the harbour silted up and left Sandwich stranded inland as a peaceful little medieval town with a river running through it. The river is now perfect for taking pleasure boat trips either to view the seals basking near Pegwell Bay or to explore the magnificent ruins of a Roman town at Richborough. This atmospheric site is run by English Heritage and provides a fascinating insight into how life was during the Roman occupation from AD43 to AD410.
The ship that brought Charles II back from France to reclaim his throne in 1660, set sail from Sandwich with Captain Montague in charge. The King decided to honour him for this important service and offered him an Earldom. Captain Montague was keen to be Earl of Portsmouth but King Charles decided on the Earl of Sandwich.
It was the 4th Earl of Sandwich who couldn't bear to leave the gambling table and instructed his servant to bring him meat between two slices of bread so he could eat while he played. This handy portable snack became known as a sandwich and it is strange to think that if the original Captain had had his way, we would now be ordering a ham and cheese Portsmouth for lunch!
Note: There is an amusing sign in the village of Northbourne that points to “Ham” and “Sandwich”, it is much photographed!
Sandwich has particular appeal to golfers as it is home to the Royal St George's Golf Club which Ian Fleming described as the “most beautiful seaside golf course in the world” - high praise indeed from someone who lived in Jamaica and must have played some stunning golf courses in the Caribbean.
Ian Fleming lived for a while at nearby St Margaret's Bay and described a tense golf match between James Bond and Goldfinger at the Royal St George's Club.
The Club occasionally hosts the Open Championship, attracting golfers, spectators and sporting commentators from all over the world. Sandwich is a completely charming medieval town and a wonderful location for a holiday close to the sea and countryside attractions.