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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 28 March 2010

Dover Part 2: Churches of Sandwich

St Mary's Church, Sandwich, Kent

St Mary's Church is on the corner of Strand Street and Church Street, in the northern part of Sandwich. Perhaps the oldest church site in town, a convent was founded here in the seventh century, although nothing of it now survives. The church is said to have been destroyed by Danes, and then afterwards rebuilt by Queen Emma, consort both to Ethelred the Unready and later to King Canute. The existing Norman church was built in the mid-twelfth century.

St Mary's Church, Sandwich, Kent

Large areas of it survive, despite the sacking of the town in 1217 and 1457 by the French. An earthquake in 1579 and the collapse of the stone tower in 1688 also caused rebuilding work, and the last event saw the roof replaced in a fairly unique way by covering the wide nave in a single span, giving a magnificent sense of space. Greatly restored in the 1870s, the church fell again into a state of disrepair. Made redundant in 1948, it was saved from demolition in 1952.

Sandwich United Reformed Church, Sandwich, Kent

Sandwich United Reformed Church is behind the Cattle Market in the very centre of the town. The church was founded 1643, when its members used as their meeting house a building at the back of Guildhall, on the site of an inn formerly used by Canterbury pilgrims. This old building was replaced by the present one in 1706, making it one of the earliest of the independent chapels. The chapel was renovated in 1897, with a new floor, roof, and pine seats.

St Bartholomew's Hospital Chapel, Sandwich, Kent

St Bartholomew's Hospital Chapel, lies off Dover Road in the grounds of the former hospital. Established as a hostel for travellers and pilgrims, the hospital and chapel may have been built as early as 1190. The French attack on Sandwich in 1217 was repulsed with a great victory, and the present buildings may have been erected afterwards as part of the celebrations for that victory. On 9 July, 1349, Edward III made a grant to the brethren of the house of St Bartholomew.

St Bartholomew's Hospital Chapel, Sandwich, Kent

Unusually, the hospital survived the Dissolution, and by this time it had changed to provide a permanent home to sixteen brothers or sisters. The sixteen cottages surround the chapel to this day. The Charity Commissioners reported in 1837 that there were in the hospital a master and sixteen brothers and sisters, and described its property in detail. Also in Sandwich, St Thomas' Hospital dates from 1392 and offers permanent homes to twelve brothers or sisters.

Catholic Church of St Andrew, Sandwich, Kent

The Catholic Church of St Andrew sits at the bottom of St George's Road. It was built in the early 1960s to provide a space for the Catholics in Sandwich to worship. The town was always a stronghold for nonconformists, and supported the right of its populace to worship in their own way, but following the English Reformation, the Catholics were amongst the last to return here, with a congregation being formed only after the First World War.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.



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