Sandwich, Kent

Sandwich is now about two miles from the sea, but the River Stour used to be large enough for big trading and war ships to sail to and from the quay. This large habour was called Sandwich Haven.

It was also large enough for invading ships, and the town was invaded many times in the past. For example, in 1457, the town was attacked by 4,000 Frenchmen (mainly from Honfleur) under Marshal Pierre de Breze or as English accounts call him, Peter Brassey. The Mayor of Sandwich, John Drury, was killed along with many citizens. In memory of this event, the Mayor of Sandwich still wears a black robe.

All is forgiven today however, and the town of Honfleur is now a twin town of Sandwich.

Sandwich was and still is a principle Cinque port. Originally, the Cinque Ports were a confederation of five harbours, Sandwich, Romney, Dover, Hythe, and Hastings. They supplied the Crown with ships and men for over 300 years. In return they received freedom from tolls and customs duties, freedom to trade and to hold their own judicial courts plus many other privilages.
Today, these towns are still known as the Cinque Ports, but the coastline has changed considerably over the centuries and only Dover retains its major port status.

Sandwich still retains the tradition of collecting 'Ship Money' from its associate towns, the ceremony is held in the ancient Courtroom in the Guildhall every year.

The origin of the word 'sandwich' for an item of food was possibly named after John Montagu who was the 4th Earl of Sandwich.
It is said that in approx.1762, he asked for meat to be served between slices of bread, to avoid interrupting a gambling game. This story may have been rumour or adverse propoganda, put about by his rivals.

Hereditary English titles can be confusing. The family of the Earls of Sandwich has no real connection to the town itself, only the title. The 1st Earl, Edward Montagu, originally intended to take the title of the Earl of Portsmouth - this may have been changed as a compliment to the town of Sandwich, because the fleet he was commanding in 1660 was lying off Sandwich, before it sailed to bring back Charles II to England.

It is generally thought that the word 'sandwich' as an item of food, has no connection with the town, only with John Montagu, who happened to have the title, a 'sandwich' could just as easily have been called a 'portsmouth' if the 1st Earl, Edward Montagu, had not changed his mind.

The Sandwich Isles: Captain James Cook also named the Sandwich Isles (Hawaii) after the 4th Earl, who was his financial sponsor.

King Street, Sandwich today

The famous 4th Earl, John Montague

The "Old House"

The Pilgrims House